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Court junks then revives petition to tag CPP, NPA as terrorist organizations

A Manila court has junked — and then revived — the government's petition seeking the judicial declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.

The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 dismissed the petition last December 9 due to the government's failure to serve summons to the respondents by publication, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento confirmed Tuesday.

The government filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing "there were still pending incidents which prevented us from publishing it," Malcontento said.

The court granted the motion for reconsideration on February 7.

"Finding the grounds stated in the petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration meritorious, and in the higher interest of justice and considering that the petitioner has satisfactorily shown before the Court its readiness to serve summons to respondents by publication, the same is hereby granted," Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar wrote in an order.

"The instant petition is hereby revived and the petitioner is directed to immediately cause the service of summons to the respondents by publication."

Malcontento said prosecutors published the summons in the People's Tonight last Saturday on account of the court order.

The government filed the petition against the CPP-NPA in 2018 in compliance with the Human Security Act of 2007, which requires the Department of Justice to apply with an RTC before an organization, association, or group of persons could be declared terrorist or outlawed.

The filing followed President Rodrigo Duterte's December 2017 proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. The proclamation was issued after Duterte terminated peace talks with the communist group.

The petition for proscription reportedly cited 12 alleged atrocities or "terrorist acts" by the CPP-NPA in 2017.

It originally named 649 alleged communist rebels as respondents but the government later on drastically cut down the list to eight alleged leaders, including founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, who is in exile in the Netherlands.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines said there was no link between the alleged terrorist acts and the eight remaining respondents.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said last year that "everyone outside the eight named respondents who will be proven to be a member of the organization declared engaged in terror activities will still be covered."

Prior to the DOJ's amendment, the court had already declared former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, United Nations Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, NDFP consultant Rafael Baylosis, and ex-Baguio City councilor Jose Melencio Molintas as "non-parties" to the case. —KG, GMA News