The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has designated the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and the Islamic State East Asia, Maute Group, Daulah Islamiyah, and other associated groups as “terrorist organizations, associations, and/or groups of persons”.
The two separate resolutions, which were approved on December 9, were signed by ATC chair, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and the body’s vice chair, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.
The ATC is composed of nine members of the Cabinet including the Executive Secretary, National Security Adviser, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of National Defense, Secretary of Interior and Local Government, Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Justice, Secretary of Information and Communications Technology, and the Executive Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
ATC Resolution Number 12 which designated the CPP-NPA, with its armed wing known as the “Bagong Hukbong Bayan”, used as a basis the February 21, 2018 petition filed by the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19, docketed as Case No. R-MNL-18-00925-CV, “praying that the CPP-NPA be declared as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations, and/or group of persons pursuant to Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9372, otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007 “.
The NPS, in its petition, said the CPP-NPA “was organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism and, for almost half a century, have been and are still using acts of terror to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to overthrow the duly constituted authorities and seize control of the Philippine Government through armed struggle.”
It also cited 12 incidents that constitute terrorist acts of murder, kidnapping, and arson to prove that the CPP-NPA continues to commit acts of terror to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to topple the Philippine government which is the group’s ultimate goal.
“Filing of the said petition by the NPS, DOJ clearly established the existence of probable cause that the CPP-NPA committed, or attempted to commit, or conspired in the commission of the acts defined and penalized by the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act),” ATC Resolution Number 12 read.
In justifying its designation of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, it also invoked President Proclamation Number 374 issued on December 5, 2017, declaring the group as designated/identified terrorist organizations under Section 3 (e)(1) of Republic Act No. 10168, otherwise known as “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012”.
The law states that among the designated persons are “any person or entity designated and/or identified as a terrorist, one who finances terrorism, or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction”.
ATC Resolution Number 12 also cited the United States’ designation of the CPP-NPA as a “foreign terrorist organization” in August 2002 and those made by the European Union, Australia, United Kingdom, all in 2002; and New Zealand, in 2010.
“Now, therefore, the ATC, by virtue of the powers vested in us by Section 45 of ATA and pursuant to paragraph 3 of Section 25 of the ATA, finds probable cause that the CPP-NPA committed or conspired to commit the acts defined and penalized under Section 4 of the ATA and hereby designates the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations, associations or groups of persons,” it added.
Under Section 25 of the ATA, the ATC may designate individuals or groups as terrorists upon the finding of probable cause that they are in a conspiracy to commit or are committing acts of terrorism.
In justifying the designation of Islamic State East Asia, Maute Group, Daulah Islamiyah, and its associated groups as “terrorist organizations, associations, and /or groups of persons,” ATC Resolution Number 13 said the ATC can adopt the United Nations Security Consolidated List which designated individuals or groups as terrorism.
“Whereas, paragraph 1 of Section 25 of the ATA states that, ‘Pursuant to our obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) No. 1373, the ATC shall automatically adopt the United Nations Security Council Consolidated List of designated individuals, group of persons, organizations, or associations designated and/or identified as a terrorist, one who finances terrorism, or a terrorist organization or group’,” it added.
It added that on December 17, 2015, the UN adopted UNSCR No. 2253 on ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List, “reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever, wherever, and by whomsoever committed, and reiterating its unequivocal condemnation of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Qaida, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities for ongoing and multiple criminal terrorist acts aimed at causing the deaths of innocent civilians and other victims, destruction of property, and greatly undermining stability.”
ATC Resolution Number 13 said the Philippines, as a UN member state, has an obligation to take the aforesaid measures “with respect to all individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities included in the list created pursuant to UNSCR Nos. 1267 (1999), 1333 (2000), 1989 (2011), 2083 (2012), and 2161 (2014), regardless of the nationality or residence of such individuals, groups, undertakings, or entities.”
This is only fitting considering that some militant groups in the Philippines pledged allegiance to the ISIL (Da’esh) and to its erstwhile leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, following the declaration of the caliphate in June 2014 after the group took control of large swathes of land straddling Iraq and Syria.
“Whereas, the Marawi siege in 2017 has served as a paradigm for like-minded groups and personalities in Southeast Asia and other parts of the globe to join the militants in the southern Philippines in their ambition to establish a caliphate in Mindanao, as what the Da’esh leadership has been advocating,” it added.
ATC Resolution Number 13, meanwhile, designated the following groups as terrorists: (1) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in South-East Asia; (2) Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik; (3) Dawlatul Islamiyyah Waliyatul Mashriq; (4) IS East Asia Division; (5) Maute Group; (6) Islamic State East Asia; (7) Maute ISIS; (8) Grupong ISIS; (9) Grupo ISIS; (10) Khilafah Islamiyah; (11) KIM; (12) Ansharul Khilafah; (13) Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Bungos; (14) Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Abubakar; (15) Jama’atu al-Muhajirin wal Ansar fil Filibin; (16) Daulah Islamiyah; and (17) other Daesh-affiliated groups in the Philippines. (Priam Nepomuceno, PNA)