December 12, 2017, 10:54 am
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Senators back terror tag on NPA

SENATORS yesterday expressed support for President Duterte’s plan to  classify the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, as a terrorist group because of atrocities it is committing against civilians.

The NPA has been in the list of terrorist organizations of the United States and the European Union, together with the CPP, since 2002. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, said the NPA’s ideology “has deteriorated, if there is an ideology left of them.”

“I think it’s about time. The NPA is (operating) in our country and yet other countries have already declared them as terrorists. Besides, what are they doing? For the longest time, as far as we can remember, they engage in terroristic acts to extort money from industries, businesses in far-flung areas,” he also said.

The military has also expressed support to Duterte’s plan, saying the NPA no longer adheres to an ideology and is now like common criminals because of its activities like burning assets of businesses that refuse  to pay extortion money and recruiting minors as warriors.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, a former military officer, said if the US and the EU have declared the NPA as a terrorist organization, why can’t the Philippines.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said he would believe Duterte’s remark if he would fire all communists in his Cabinet. He counts at least 10 communists in high places in government, among them Liza Masa who chairs the National Anti-Poverty Commission and Teddy Ridon of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said being “left-leaning” or supportive of the communist group is not a crime as long as one does not “take up arms” against government.

He also said the President was only referring to the NPA and not the entire CPP and the political group, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in his plan to classify the NPA as a terror group.

Roque said the President has repeatedly given the NPA a chance to talk peace but it continued with its illegal activities like the ambuscades on government troops.

He also said Duterte’s plan indicates that peace talks with the NDFP will remain suspended.

The President on Saturday said he is again not inclined to talk peace with the communist group. Peace talks with the communist group have been suspended since the middle of the year following the NPA’s attacks against government troops as well as their demands for the release of some of their consultants.

Roque, asked how the latest declaration of the President would affect the planned localized talks of his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, with the regional members of the communist rebels, said just give the effort a chance.

He said if the localized talks succeed, it may even become a model for the peace talks with the communist rebels. – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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