Senator Chiz Escudero has reminded the police and the military to strictly observe the provisions of the Human Security Act (HSA) in the conduct of their operation after the government had officially declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the National People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations.
Escudero, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said President Duterte’s declaration removes the possibility of peace talks. “And given the government policy, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
Republic Act 9372 or the HSA defines terrorism, as well as provides for the procedure should the government seek to tag a group as terrorist. It creates an anti-terrorism council and grievance committee to implement the law and see any violations of the law, respectively.
“I hope this terror tag on CPP-NDF is just a hiccup or a negotiating tactic in the peace process. I am still optimistic that peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA will soon resume and prosper under a cooler situation,” the veteran legislator said.
The seasoned lawmaker said with the terror tag on the CPP-NPA, the military and the police should adhere to the measures and procedures provided under the HSA, especially on the matter of safeguards to protect human rights against abuse by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“Any offense committed under HSA necessitates stronger evidentiary requirements. You can’t just file murder, illegal possession of firearms or any non-bailable offense. Government has to follow and adhere to the stringent requirements provided by the law, and these requirements carry corresponding penalties against violators,” the senator from Bicol said.
“Ang nakakalungkot dito, marami na namang maiipit na iba’t ibang lugar sa bansa at mga sibilyan dahil sa umpugan ng NPA at ng gobyerno. At magpapatuloy pa rin ang patayan ng Pilipino at kapwa Pilipino,” he said.
“I believe that peace negotiation should be exhausted to bring the armed conflict to a permanent and just closure,” Escudero added.