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Council tags NDF a ‘terror group’

By Rey E. Requejo and Willie Casas / Manila Standard

The Anti-Terrorism Council has designated the National Democratic Front (NDF) as a terrorist organization due to its links to the communist rebels.

In a resolution dated June 23, 2021, the ATC stressed that the NDF was “an integral and inseparable part” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, which had been declared as terror groups last December.

“Article X [of the 2016 CPP Constitution] shows that the NDF aka NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is the core and most consolidated group that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the CPP-NPA,” the resolution stated.

“Members of the NDF aka NDFP continue to lure and/or recruit people to join the NPA, while the CPP itself admitted and maintained, through public media releases as well as in CPP documents and revelations of former members, the direct and indispensable role of the NDF aka NDFP in its armed operations,” it said.

With the designation of NDF as a terrorist group, the government through the Anti-Money Laundering Council can now order the freezing of the NDF’s funds and assets.

Under the law, the NDF, which was founded in 1973, may file for delisting before the ATC within 15 days from publication of the designation.

Last April, the ATAC declared CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, his wife Julieta, and the rest of the 19-member central committee of the CPP as terrorists.

Sison dismissed the designation as “arbitrary and dubious.”

There are 37 petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law are up for resolution by the Supreme Court.

Describing it as long overdue, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) hailed the designation of the NDF as a terrorist organization.

During the NTF-ELCAC virtual presscon: "Tagged: Debunking Lies by Telling the Truth," National Security Adviser Sec. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the designation of the NDF as a terrorist organization along with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army has long been overdue.

Esperon also stressed it was the CPP that formed the NDF in 1973, noting that “officials of the NDF, are in fact, members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and if not, being Central Committee members themselves. So, it’s just right that we designate them as a terrorist organization.”

In related developments, former rebels from the defunct Alex Boncayao Brigade and the Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army commended the progress of the Duterte Administration’s “Whole of the Nation Approach” to finally end the 52-year-old armed struggle of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the Philippines.

Undersecretary Severo Catura, the Presidential Human Rights Committee Executive Director and spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC, said the former rebels remain keen observers of the government’s initiatives to dismantle the communist threat.

“These groups commended the manner in which more former rebels have surfaced and given opportunities to start new lives, the greater number of villages that are now enjoying peace and development under the Barangay Development Program, the clearing of more CTG-influenced villages, and the dismantling of more Communist Terrorist Group fronts,” Catura said.

“Remember, that these groups—the RPA-ABB and the CPLA—know what they’re talking about, having had their own experiences in working for decades for peace in the countryside alongside the government,” Catura added.

“The NTF-ELCAC is not the playground bully as being portrayed by critics of the government, specifically the CTG front organizations. The NTF-ELCAC is, more than anything else, an instrument to bring about a just, equitable and lasting peace in a society that is free from terrorism—all in keeping with our people’s desire to live in a society that is free from such,” the NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on human rights, peace process, and international engagements said.

Catura said the government would remain committed to its obligations to human rights and International Humanitarian Law in line with the position of the Commission of Human Rights.

The CHR earlier condemned the latest landmine blasts perpetrated by the CPP-NPA that killed three unarmed government soldiers in Jipapad, Eastern Samar and football star Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven in Masbate.

Deputy Spokesperson Mark Siapno stressed the CHR condemned the use of anti-personnel mines (APMs), adding that all these crimes by the NPA will be accounted for. He gave assurance that the CHR will seek justice for the victims.

Siapno also reiterated the government's call that the CPP-NPA-NDF should be held accountable for all other crimes they have perpetrated against the Filipino people in violation of IHL and Human Rights Laws.

Catura expressed his gratitude for the CHR’s alignment with the government’s position against the CTG’s continuous grave violations of IHL. This he said will ultimately put a stop to the never-ending atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF to the Filipinos.

“We only need to remind ourselves of what befell the Absalons, of Kieth’s and Nolven’s grieving parents; we only need to look at the morbid images and testimonies of cruelty and brutality suffered by unarmed soldiers who were not on duty. And this must stop,” he said.



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