February 21, 2018, 1:23 pm
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Who are the terrorists?

FIRST we have to define what terrorism is. It is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, for the pursuit of political goals.

The Abu Sayyaf and the Maute groups that rampaged Marawi City fall within the ambit of this definition. They did not ransack the city just for the sake of sowing terror and obeying the fundamentalist dictates of their religion, Islam. They also wanted to establish a geographical unit of the Islamic State, where sharia is supreme, which is ultimately their political objective.

The New People’s Army (NPA) employs illegal or unlawful violence and coercion to further its dream of establishing pockets of political units under the National Democratic Front, governed by the Communist Party of the Philippines. They have been waging an armed struggle since 1968 to attain this political goal, and thus their violence is illegal. Had they already won, they would have promulgated a new set of laws for the nation, making their use of force and arms “legal,” and thus they would no longer be dubbed as terrorist.

The Duterte administration controls the Republic, holds military sway over the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the police, and is using firearms, coercion and threats against civilians who are perceived as criminals, drug addicts, pushers and drug lords and their syndicates. The effort and the activity is the same as the communist armed force, except that the Duterte government won in the elections and thus is covered by the mantle of legality. The rebels can only call it derisively as “state terrorism” -- which we have to admit -- somewhat describes it.

Remember that the word “terrorism” originated from the Reign of Terror in 18th century France, when Robespierre and the Jacobins ruled the French Revolution, when critics of that dispensation were routinely tortured and murdered.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s official conferment of the status of “terrorist organizations” to the NPA and the CPP, which he did Tuesday, is just a legal formality that befits that armed rebel group.

The immediate result is that the two organizations, their fraternal and legal associations, and their financiers may be prosecuted under RA 10168, the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

The government particularly the Department of Justice is also planning to cite the Human Security Act (RA 9372) as basis for the filing of charges and arrests of CPP and NPA leaders.

In fine, it is as if the peace talks and high-level negotiations for peace held abroad happened eons ago, and their return to the national fabric will not happen at least in the remaining years of Duterte’s term of office.

What a way to end President Duterte’s much touted and self-admitted “friendship” with the NPA which started when he was mayor of Davao City and lasted for years.

Now the only thing to do is to make a running total of the body count in this attritional war among Filipinos.
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