DOJ to take CPP-NPA terrorist tag ruling to CA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to file a new proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), before the Court of Appeals (CA).

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla explained that under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the jurisdiction over proscription cases falls under the CA.

This comes a day after Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 junked the government's petition to declare the CPP and NPA as terrorists, noting that they do not exist to engage in terrorism.

READ: Manila court junks govt's case to declare CPP, NPA as terrorist groups 

"The law that was used in the RTC case is already a law that was repealed by the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020," Remulla said.

Remulla previously told the media that they were initially considering appealing the Manila RTC's ruling, but eventually said on Friday's interview that doing so "will not serve us anything good."

"Under the new law, the jurisdiction for proscription of terrorist organizations will lie in the Court of Appeals," he added. "We are now preparing our cases for the CA for the proscription of CPP-NPA."

The Philippine government, through the DOJ, filed the petition for proscription against the CPP-NPA on Feb. 21, 2018 to recognize them as terrorist groups under Section 17 of Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007.

The proscription case was filed two years before the passage of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 (Republic Act No. 11479), which now supersedes the old law.

In determining whether the CPP and NPA committed "terrorist acts," the Manila court assessed nine incidents of atrocities allegedly committed by CPP-NPA members as testified by government witnesses. But the court said these fell within the category of "small-time, hit-and-run, sporadic acts of violence with no specified victims or targets."

Remulla said, however, that the ruling seemingly became a treatise on how to defend the National Democratic Front and the other progressive movements "who want to bring down the government."

He also said that when the decision came, "there were facts alleged not in evidence in the decision, not proven, and there were issues raised that were not even an issue in the case filed like red-tagging."

Former President Rodrigo Duterte previously issued Proclamation 374 that designated the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups.

Designation is an "administrative act" of the executive through the Anti-Terrorism Council, while proscription is a judicial proceeding before the regional trial court (under the repealed HSA) or before the Court of Appeals (under the Anti-Terrorism Act or ATA).

Even with the passage of the ATA, Judge Magdoza-Malagar of the Manila RTC Branch 19 said the court retained jurisdiction over the case and could use the definition of "terrorist acts" in the HSA. This means the DOJ still carries the burden of proof to justify the proscription of the two groups as terrorist organizations.