‘Public denounce NPA atrocities, recruitment of students’
THE PUBLIC CONTINUES to denounce the atrocities and human rights violations against innocent civilians committed by the communist rebel group New People’s Army.
The condemnation is growing and calls to outlaw communism were being revived following the many deaths of students recruited by leftist organizations, but ended up fighting security forces in the countryside.
The Senate has begun an inquiry into the recruitment of students by left-wing groups after parents reported to authorities that their children had been lured to join street rallies and anti-government protests and eventually ended up as rebels.
“We strongly support this (Senate) hearing, even as we commend the mothers who have found the courage to stand up against these local terrorists who have taken away their children,” said Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat.
“We honor these parents – vulnerable victims themselves of these terrorists – for voicing out their revulsion over these human rights abuses,” he added.
Catura strongly criticized the communist movement, including its front organizations for losing all moral ascendancy to portray themselves as human rights defenders and vilify the democratic government. “We repeat – they are nothing but terrorists and human rights abusers,” he said, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, its armed wing.
He said the CPP-NPA have been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and even the Philippines.
Catura said the crucial human rights to family life calls on every individual “to claim respect for his or her family and to keep relationships in that same family strong.”
“The ongoing Senate hearing on the recruitment of children as child warriors by these local terrorists is more than just an inquiry in aid of legislation. It is a strong assertion of the State’s duty to protect a crucial human right – every Filipino citizen’s right to family life,” he said.
Catura said this right obligates the State to protect family relations from intrusion, especially incursions that threaten the right to life and liberty of their children who are considered vulnerable persons themselves. “This covers every parent’s right to be protected against the menace of terrorism that threatens to separate – or has already separated – them from their children. The Duterte administration is a champion of this right,” he said.
Citing Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Catura said: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” The same tenet is laid out in Article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights signed by the Philippines in 1986, which also underscores that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation; and [that] everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
He noted that discussions at the Senate hearing have unmasked the terrorist persuasion of the CPP-NPA and its front organizations before the public. “For too long have the local Communist terrorists, through their front organizations, portrayed themselves as so-called human rights advocates and defenders, and the government as the evil human rights violator. This has now ended,” Catura said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is pushing for a proposal to revive the Anti-Subversion Law to put an end to communist insurgency.
He said the CPP and the NPA, including its front organizations have been trying to overthrow the democratic government for the past six decades now.
“It is about time that we put an end to this conflict that has been bringing our nation down and has killed some 100,000 policemen, soldiers, government officials and innocent civilians. If we truly want to end this scourge of society, the Anti-Subversion Act is urgent, critical, and inevitable,” said Año, a former Philippine military chief.
“It only covers the communists who are actively working to overthrow the government through armed struggle and does not, in any way, cover legitimate dissent, political opposition, or similar groups. We are ready to work with Congress to craft such a legislation that responds to the needs of the times and places the necessary safeguards to ensure our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of association and free speech,” he added.
The law was repealed in 1992 after then President Fidel Ramos opened peace talks with communist rebels.
But Año said the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law may have been a mistake because the communist movement gained momentum in many areas and it grew bolder with the support of legal front organizations in urban areas from where they derive logistics, funding, source of cadres, and other forms of support.
“The repeal of the anti-subversion law was a demand of the CCP-NPA-NPF for the conduct of the peace talks in the 1990s. In good faith, the government acceded to those demands for the sake of peace. But instead of laying down their arms and joining mainstream society, the communists grew bolder and used the democratic space accorded to them to regroup, organize, and mobilize,” he explained.
Año said since the repeal of the anti-subversion law, the communists have continuously rejected the government’s call for genuine peace and have instead indiscriminately sowed terrorism across the country. He said the CPP’s constitution categorically states that its goal is to overthrow the democratic, republican system using the weapons of “revolutionary armed struggle and the national united front.”
“Its program declares that this is to be done by building guerrilla fronts “to encircle the cities from the countryside… until it becomes possible to seize power in the cities,” he said. “If we revive the Anti-Subversion Law, we will be able to dismantle the urban mass movement in the cities that fuels the armed struggle in the mountains. We will be able to stifle their so-called ‘legal front organizations’ that provides sustenance to the underground mass organizations. It will be the beginning of an inevitable end,” he added, citing the continuous active recruitment of some 500 to 1,000 youth annually by legal communist front organizations in schools and universities where some 50 to 100 of them become armed members of the NPA.
However, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said instead of reviving the Anti-Subversion Law, he proposed amendments to the Human Right Act in order to address insurgency and terrorism efficiently, according to a report by the Business Mirror which quoted him as saying: “With all due respect to Secretary Año, mere membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines (subversion) is not a crime unless overt criminal acts are committed. Amending and giving more teeth to the Human Security Act will suffice, in my opinion.”
Jose Maria Sison, the CPP founder and Chief Political Consultant to the National Democratic Front, said Año’s proposal is “one more manifestation of the frenzied drive of the tyrannical Duterte regime to impose a thoroughgoing fascist dictatorship on the people in a vain attempt to end the armed revolutionary movement as well as the broad legal opposition through red-tagging, harassment, threats, abductions and murders.”
“In line with the Duterte tyranny, the most vicious and bloodthirsty officials who love to kill people to solve problems are enamoured of the long-discredited Anti-Subversion Law because it provides for the death penalty, for the prejudgment of people on the basis of guilt by association and for the arbitrary listing of people as “communists” for the purpose of extortions and mass slaughter.”
Sison, who is now in exile in The Netherlands, said the revival of the Anti-Subversion Law will not eliminate the CPP and its so-called people’s democratic revolution, but will only serve to further violate the national and democratic rights of the people and will thus incite the broad masses of the people to rise up.
“The fundamental cause of the armed revolution in the Philippines is neither the existence of the Communist Party in the Philippines nor the communist ideas of Marxism-Leninism but the exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism in a semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system now lorded over by the tyrant and plunderer Duterte,” he said.
“The revival of the Anti-Subversion Law can give further license to Duterte’s armed minions to violate human rights and can further embolden them to witch hunt, harass, threaten and kill those that they arbitrarily list as “communists” among the critics of the regime and the people in general. Such law can result in bigger mass murders than those perpetrated under Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Kapanatagan,” he added.
Sison said the Anti-Subversion Law has long been discredited as an unjust and anti-democratic law by which anyone can be subjected to punishment on the basis of guilt by association, without the need to present evidence for the personal culpability of the accused for any crime.
“Such law has long been condemned as a poison to the freedom of thought, expression and assembly. Violations of democratic rights under the Anti-Subversion Law will drive more people to further oppose the regime and rise up in arms against it. Threatening to kill and actually killing people for their political ideas will compel them to act in a revolutionary way in order to get rid of the regime of terror that deprives them of the basic freedoms of thought, expression and assembly,” he added. (Joyce Ann Rocamora. With additional reports from the Mindanao Examiner and Business Mirror.)
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