Gov't designates Joma Sison, 18 other CPP officials as ‘terrorists’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13) — The Anti-Terrorism Council has formally tagged as "terrorists" 29 individuals, including the founder and alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The resolution was signed by Executive Secretary ATC Chairperson Salvador Medialdea and ATC Vice Chairperson Hermogenes Esperon on April 20 and published in a newspaper on Thursday.

The executive council has designated CPP founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison and his wife Julieta Sison as terrorists. It also included National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon, Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, and 13 other alleged members of CPP's central committee.

It said the 19 personalities violated Sections 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

"Based on verified and validated information, the ATC found probable cause, as defined in the Anti-Terrorism Act, warranting the designation of the following central committee members of the CPP... for planning, preparing, facilitating, conspiring, and inciting the commission of terrorism and recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization or a group organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism" the resolution said.

ATC said the assets of listed individuals shall be subject to the authority of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, which can freeze their accounts without delay.

Upon the authorization of the ATC, applications for an individual or group’s proscription as terrorist are filed with the Court of Appeals.

RELATED: Court of Appeals to handle gov’t bid to tag CPP-NPA as a terrorist group

'Arbitrary, dubious' list

CPP founder and NDFP Chief political consultant Sison slammed the list publicized by the executive council, calling it "arbitrary, dubious and even contradictory or inconsistent."

Sison, who is in exile in the Netherlands, said he and his wife are unfazed by the inclusion of their names on the list. But he admitted to worrying about the welfare of red-tagged personalities who are staying in the Philippines.

"We are not bothered even by the threats of Duterte death squads coming over to hit us which have been persistently reported to us by various sources. We have been alert to these threats," he said in a Facebook post on Thursday. "Our main concern is for those who are in the Philippines and are designated by the aforesaid resolution and many more people who are red-tagged and vulnerable to the criminal violence of the Duterte regime."

Local terror groups included

In another resolution signed on the same date, the Anti-Terrorism Council also designated as "terrorists" 10 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and other militant organizations said to be linked with the Islamic State group. Among them are Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan, who is suspected to be the mastermind in the August 2020 bloody twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu, and Esmael Abdulmalik, also known as Commander Toraifie.

The tagged parties may file a verified request for delisting before the council within 15 days.

Esperon disclosed on Wednesday that the list will be published during the Supreme Court oral arguments on the controversial law. There are 37 petitions before the high court calling for the junking of the statute for constitutional violations. It is the country's most challenged law in recent history.

The Office of the Solicitor General, in a previous session at the high court, maintained the government is not engaged in "red-tagging" activities, asserting that officials only do "truth-tagging."