A Filipina United Nations special rapporteur and a former congressman on Thursday said they were told they were among a list of 600 alleged communist guerrillas that President Rodrigo Duterte’s government wants declared as terrorists.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said she learned her name was included in petition filed by the justice department. The petition asks a local court to declare the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed unit, the New People’s Army (NPA), as a terrorist organizations.
Former House member Satur Ocampo said he too appears on the list that has not been made public.
“In this 55-page petition my name has been included as one of the respondents and as one of the officers and members of the CPP and NPA,” Corpuz said. “I denounce this act by the Department of Justice of including me in this list.”
Corpuz denied she was connected to the organizations, nor that she had participated in alleged terroristic acts spelled out in the petition. She did not say how she learned her name was listed.
“I will address this baseless, malicious and irresponsible inclusion of my name even as I am consulting my lawyers on what legal courses of action to take to clear my name and even make accountable those who put my life and security at risk,” Corpuz said.
Government and military spokesmen refused to comment.
The government filed the petition at a Manila court after Duterte ended peace negotiations in November, ending hopes that a political settlement would be reached with the insurgents the military estimates to have an armed strength of about 5,000 fighters.
Duterte had accused the rebels of negotiating in bad faith, noting that the CPP-NPA had continued its attacks despite agreeing to a truce and the peace talks moving forward. He had hoped to end the 49-year rebellion that has left thousands dead and left large parts of the countryside in dire poverty by the time he ends his six-year term in 2022.
In particular, he had said he felt betrayed by the CPP-NPA, after freeing dozens of jailed guerrillas so they could join peace negotiations. He had also named several prominent leftists to his cabinet as a show of good faith.
Ocampo, a former leftist politician, plans to consult his lawyer about the inclusion.
“He has turned totally antagonistic towards the left,” Ocampo told BenarNews, speaking about Duterte. “He has scuttled the peace negotiations just when these were producing very positive results on socio-economic reforms.”
Ocampo said Duterte was absolutely wrong by tagging him and others as guerrilla fighters and the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. “He again is relying on the military’s advice and replicating the U.S. government listing of the revolutionary organizations as a terrorist organization since 2002,” Ocampo said.
The petition includes 18 top guerrilla leaders, including CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and former chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni. Sison, who taught Duterte at a university, had heaped praise on his student who won the presidency by a landslide by vowing to kill thousands of drug addicts and pushers.
Felipe Villamor in Manila contributed to this report.