Philippine Government Declares Communists Are Terrorists

By James Burke

Following the termination of peace talks last month, the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing has been classified a terrorist organization by the Filipino government.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who in the past showed sympathy to the communists, signed a proclamation announcing the classification on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

The proclamation declares the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “a designated terrorist organization,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, reported Nikkei.

Roque said that the edict will outlaw the financing of the CPP and the NPA. Under a 2012 terrorism financing prevention and suppression act, the proclamation allows for the “freezing and forfeiture of property or funds of persons or organizations identified as designated persons or organizations,” reported Philstar.

The classification comes after Duterte officially terminated peace talks with the communists and affiliated groups last month. Roque said the CPP, “failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations.”

The U.S. classified the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization in 2002, a stance reconfirmed earlier this year. However, the Philippine government, hoping to form a peace deal with the communists, had not previously used such a label, reported Nikkei.

The Philippine military has welcomed the classification.

“This proclamation clearly classifies and labels the group for what they really are,” said army spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla in a statement.

“We can now address without any hesitation, and with all the means and resources available to us, the increasing criminal and economic sabotage activities of these terrorists,” he said.

Upon coming to power last year, Duterte offered two cabinet positions to left-wing activists endorsed by the CPP and ordered the release of top communist advisers from jail.

The moves were seen as part of his effort to bring to an end an insurgency that is one of the longest in Asia. Since 1969, the conflict has killed more than 40,000 people, reported Reuters.

After coming to power, Duterte’s relationship with the communists has soured.

In May, and he ordered the scrapping of formal peace talks after the country’s military said the communist’s military wing had increased offensive actions, violating a ceasefire.

The two communist-backed leftists were ousted from Duterte’s cabinet last month. Communist advisers released from jail to participate in peace talks are set be rearrested, according to recent reports.

Current memberships for the CPP is believed to be about 4,000, down from the 20,000 plus during the 1980s, reported Nikkei.

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