Court tags Joma Sison party to terror case

The Department of Justice has gained headway in its bid to pursue terrorism cases against officials and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

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This came after the Manila Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, declared CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison as a party to the government’s proscription case that seeks to declare the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations, after earlier declaring more than 600 other names submitted by the DOJ as non-parties.

“With respect to Jose Maria Sison, his stature as the head of the CPP, as well as the fact that he is currently, and for some time, residing at an undisclosed address in the Netherlands, is information which is public knowledge and therefore, can be taken judicial notice of, by this court,” Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, said a ruling dated Feb. 1, but released Tuesday.

The court also declared another respondent named in the DOJ petition, Mindanao Commission Secretary Antonio Cabanatan, as another party in the case after his links to the CPP-NPA were established.

The RTC cited an affidavit by a certain Numeriano Beringuel in 2006 that names Cabanatan as “a member of the Central Committee of the CPP/NPA.”

The court then ordered the DOJ to serve the summons on Sison and Cabanatan by publication to require them to answer the petition.

The court did not find any established links to the communist groups of the six other individuals named in the amended DOJ petition―Jorge Madlos of the NPA National Operations Command; Jaime Padilla, a supposed leader of the Melito Glor Command; Francisco Fernandez, an alleged secretary of the Negros Region Committee; Cleofe Lagtapon, a Southeast Front head of the same committee; Leonido Nabong, head of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Military Commission; and Myrna Sularte, secretary of the Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee—and declared them as non-parties.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra welcomed the development, saying the court’s ruling was an affirmation of the government’s position against the leaders of CPP-NPA.

“This is a positive development in our proscription case against CPP-NPA. Now the CPP-NPA has a judicially declared physical representation in the persons of Sison and Cabanatan,” Guevarra said in an interview.

Guevarra also sees no problem with the publication of summons against Sison, who is in exile in the Netherlands.

“The order to publish the petition is a standard procedural requirement whenever service of summons in person is not feasible or practical,” he said.

Guevarra reiterated that the exclusion of the six other personalities named in the government’s petition is not exactly as setback.

The DOJ initially named 649 names in its proscription petition.

But the RTC earlier declared many of them, including former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, United National special rapporteur on rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpus and former Asia representative to the UN Expert Mechanism Jose Melencio Molintas as non-parties in the case due to failure of DOJ to establish their actual links to the communist groups. 

The DOJ then filed an amended petition last month, which named only Sison and the seven others as respondents.

Guevarra pointed out that the personalities dropped from the list as “non-parties” are not automatically off the hook.

“Once the CPP and NPA are declared terrorist groups, any individual who may later be identified as a member of supporter of, or associated in any manner with, such organizations will face the consequences under the Human Security Act,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said it was unnecessary to join the communist struggle because the government is willing to distribute land.

He made this remark in his speech before more than 700 beneficiaries during the ceremonial distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award in Buluan, Mindanao.

“Their campaign is to give land to the people. I can give them that. I have actually already given land,” he said, noting that the government has already distributed 60,000 hectares since he became President.

He also slammed Sison for justifying extortion as “revolutionary taxes.”

“What can’t we give? You’ve been fighting against the government for 53 years and you can’t even conquer one barangay. Then you just want to perpetrate the killing,” Duterte said in Filipino. With PNA

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Topics: Department of Justice , Communist Party of the Philippines , New People’s Army , Jose Maria Sison
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