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Aguirre assures proscription not a hindrance to resumption of peace talks

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By Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has assured that the government’s court petition seeking to declare communist rebels as terrorists will not be an obstacle to the possible resumption of peace talks.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II testifies during the third leg of impeachment hearing against Supreme COurt Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the House of Representatives, November 28. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Hindi naman makakasagabal yan (the petition will not be a hindrance),” Aguirre told reporters today (February 24).

“Kaya lang naman napilitan ang ating Pangulo na terminate ang peace talks ay dahilan sa nakikita niya na walang sinseridad ang other party (The only reason President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the communist rebels is that they have shown no sincerity),” he explained.

When the government was still engaged in peace talks, Aguirre reminded Duterte gave in to the requests of rebels including the release of detained communist members so they can participate in the peace negotiations.

“All this ay parang ginagawa pa na opportunity ng CPP-NPA na magpalakas ng pwersa at kanyang perpetrate ng mga terroristic act (The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army used this as an opportunity to strengthen their forces and conduct terroristic acts),” Aguirre lamented.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) a petition seeking to declare as terrorists the CPP and its armed wing the NPA.

Once the court grants the petition, Aguirre said the government can freeze or sequester the assets of the organizations and its members.

Aside from this, the government can also conduct wiretapping activities and look into their bank accounts.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, who filed the proscription, said the 55-page petition focused on atrocities committed by the rebels in 2017, particularly, 12 incidents.

The incidents cited included the death of four police officers in Davao Del Sur in February last year, the attack on members of the Philippine Army conducting humanitarian assistance in northern Samar, and the death of a four-month-old girl during an NPA ambush in Bukidnon in November.

Ong said there are two grounds for the proscription: “the organization, association or group of persons was organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism; or, even if the organization, association or group of persons was not organized for purposes of engaging in terrorism but it commits act of terrorism such as murder, arson for the purpose of sowing terror.”

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