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Govt tags NDF as terrorist group

By Dempsey Reyes / The Manila Times

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon

THE government has listed the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a terrorist organization, making it the third left-leaning group to be categorized as terrorists under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the terror designation is overdue.

The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) cited two provisions in the 2016 constitution of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to back up its decision to tag the NDFP.

It said Article 9 "shows the command, lead and guidance of the CPP over the NPA (New People's Army)," and Article 10 establishes the NDF as "the core and most consolidated group that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the CPP-NPA."

The resolution was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, as ATC chairman, and Esperon, the council's vice chairman.

The resolution stated that CPP founding chairman Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, himself tagged by the ATC as a "terrorist" individual, "identified the CPP-NPA as allied organizations of the NDF" in his message during the NDF's 48th anniversary last April.

The council also noted that Sison's wife, Julieta, was recently named as the interim chairman of the NDF's negotiating panel.

The ATC also said the NDF continues to 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 in its armed operations.

"Matagal na silang pumuporma diyan na legal. Ngunit sa katotohanan ay sila naman ang talagang nagpoprotekta sa nagiging source ng recruitment. Kaya makita natin kung paano 'yung relasyon ng NDF sa CPP at NPA (They act like they are legal. But in truth, they protect the source of recruitment. Thus, we can see the NDF's ties with the CPP and NPA)," Esperon said.

Esperon said it was the CPP that formed the NDF in 1973.

"The officials of the NDF are members of the CPP, and if not, being central committee members themselves. So it's just right that we designate them as a terrorist organization," he added.

The CPP was designated as a terrorist organization by the government last year.

Alex Monteagudo, director general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, said the CPP, NPA and the NDF are one and the same organization.

Monteagudo said it is clear that the NDF "supports the CPP-NPA's objective and what is the CPP's objective? To violently overthrow the Philippine government."

"For the longest time, the Philippine government has been deceived by the CPP-NPA-NDF, that the NDF is always saying they are not connected [with the CPP-NPA], but that statement is a lie - it's a deception," he said.

He added the government can now freeze assets of the NDF through the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

"The AMLC is conducting its own investigation before it will issue a freeze order for any identified accounts of any of those who were designated including the 20 individuals and NDF organizations," Monteagudo said.

While he accused some progressive organizations of having links with communist rebels, Esperon said the ATC does not automatically consider them as terrorist groups.

"Each organization will be vetted. It will be a long and thorough process," he said in a text message to reporters.



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