DOJ amended proscription sans names of activists, remains a threat

BAGUIO CITY — Groups whose leaders and members were named in the original proscription petition filed by the Department of Justice to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations said the mere existence of the document remains a threat to activists and government critics in the country.

“While this is good news, the threats to the safety and security of activists and human rights defenders remain,” said Windel Bolinget, chair of Cordillera People’s Alliance.

He called for the dismissal of the petition stressing that once the court proscribes the rebel organizations as terrorist, “any person that is merely suspect or accused as member can be arbitrarily persecuted and declared a terrorist.”

Cordillera activists named in the petition are all leaders of CPA, these are former chairpersons Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Jose Molintas, Joan Carlin and Beverly Longid. Also in the list are founding and advisory council member Joanna Cariño and former Tongtongan ti Umili-CPA Baguio chair Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding.

Earlier, the Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) also aired their concern, saying that while the development is welcome, “the removal of names does not guarantee their safety.” The group’s regional coordinator, Sherwin De Vera, was also included in the original petition.

“The Human Security Act of 2007, the basis for the filing of the civil case, is in itself a repressive measure, directed not only against real terrorist but also to perceived enemies of the state, including critics as proven when the DOJ utilized a shotgun approached in the original petition,” said Bishop Vermilion Tagalog, chairperson of the network’s regional council.

In a statement posted in his Facebook, De vera said:  “While this might be viewed as a positive development, the entirety of the government’s action remains a serious threat to our safety and exercise of democratic rights.”

He said the amendment did not intend to “correct the danger and injustice perpetuated by DOJ” but to accelerate the proceeding to allow the government to “use the terrorist-tag against legitimate dissent.

Bolinget and De Vera also expressed their gratitude to those who supported the delisting of activists in the petition saying the condemnation of groups and personalities in the country and abroad contributed greatly to the campaign.

Meanwhile, Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said the amended petition proved the original one was “sloppy, shotgun and arbitrary” and “designed to harass and threaten” those who were named.

“Present petition remains to be without legal and factual basis and repackaged the old one in order to railroad the legal process,” he underscored.

He added that the proscription and its possible railroading will infringe individual and collective rights of those on the list and others who are maliciously identified, associated, suspected or labelled.

On January 3, the DOJ filed an amended petition, removing more than 600 names and aliases, and naming eight individuals who the agency claims to be top leaders of the CPP-NPA.#


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