February 22, 2018, 3:22 pm
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Crackdown on communist financiers, backers eyed

SECURITY officials have started discussions on a possible crackdown on supporters and financiers of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army which were declared by President Duterte this week as terrorist organizations.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said defense and military officials are weighing the pros and cons of arresting communist supporters from front organizations and personalities providing financial support to the communists.

“Meetings are ongoing and I understand there is already a list of personalities who may be arrested in connection with the declaration of the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations,” he said.

He said the list included “supporters, members of front organizations, and financiers.”

“It’s clear that they are serving as the muscle, so we’re thinking of going after them,” he also said.

The military in the past named a number of NPA front organizations, some of them represented in Congress through the party-list system.

“There is an apparent need to cut the support and logistical lines of the communists,” said the source, adding that more meetings have been scheduled to finalize the position of the Armed Forces and the defense department on the issue.

He said there may be a need to consult the Department of Justice and the PNP on the matter. “There will be due process. There will no wanton disregard of rights. Due process will still be followed,” the source said.

When the position is finalized, it will be forwarded to President Duterte for his approval. 

Duterte on Wednesday threatened “mass arrest” of communist leaders and consultants who were released from detention last year to enable them to participate in peace negotiations. He officially cancelled the formal peace talks last month because of continued NPA attacks on government forces, and some civilians.

“The AFP and the DND will not move without the President’s consent. We will always follow the commander-in-chief. If there is no specific order, we won’t move. We follow the chain of command,” the source said.

The source declined to identify the specific front organizations, whose members may be arrested. “If you are supporting them (CPP and NPA), you may be considered as terrorists also,” the official said.

Told that these organizations, including Bayan and the human rights group Karapatan, are denying accusations that they are front organizations of the CPP/NPA, the source said: “That’s just a matter of semantics.”

The source also acknowledged that some mining firms are providing financial support to the communists, echoing President Duterte’s earlier remarks that some of these firms “are contributing to the revolutionary warfare, funding the NPA.”

The source could not say if these firms are providing funds to the communists voluntarily. The NPA is known to be forcing firms to pay “revolutionary taxes,” a euphemism for extortion. Firms which refuse to heed the NPA demand are subjected to attacks.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, complying with Duterte’s order, directed the Office of the Prosecutor General to file a formal plea before a regional trial court to legally declare the CPP/NPA as a terrorist organization.

The CPP-NPA has been in the US list of foreign terrorist organizations since 2002.

Under the Human Security Act of 2007, the justice department must first seek clearance from a court before a group of persons, organization, or association could be declared a terrorist group. – With Ashzel Hachero
 
 
 
 
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