The Department of Justice on Thursday downplayed the decision rendered by a Manila City regional trial court declaring four alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as non-parties to its petition seeking the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra explained that the government’s petition before Manila City RTC, Branch 19, seeking to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups and linking more than 600 individuals to the communist group remains on track.
This came after the lower court declared former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpus and Jose Melencio Molintas as non-parties to the case.
Guevarra said that the development was not a setback to the government's proscription case against the communist rebels.
“In the first place, the only real respondents in the proscription case are the CPP and the NPA. It is these entities, not the named individuals, who are the party-respondents in the petition to declare them as terrorist organizations,” the Justice Secretary said.
Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon, head of the DoJ’s prosecutorial arm, also belittled the ruling. “The declaration by the court of some personalities as non-parties will not have any bearing on the outcome of the case,” he said.
According to Guevarra, they only submitted to the court the list of individuals, including Ocampo, Baylosis, Corpuz, and Molintas, with alleged links to the CPP-NPA solely for the purpose of service of summons to the two organizations.
“The respondents are the CPP and the NPA, whom the government wants to be declared as terrorist organizations. But where are their principal places of ‘business?’ Who are their responsible officers on whom summons may be served?" he said.
“So the DoJ mentioned the names of certain persons identified by our intelligence agencies as having links with the CPP and the NPA, in the hope that these people will answer the petition on behalf of the respondent organizations,” the DoJ chief added.
Fadullon admitted that the DoJ “will just have to resort to causing the service of summons by publication” as directed in the RTC ruling.
In its resolution dated July 27, 2018, Judge Mario Madoza-Malagar held that Ocampo and Baylosis are non-parties since “the prayed-for declaration from this court is an organization, association or group of persons.”
“Technically therefore, neither Ocampo nor Baylosis can be considered a party-respondent in this Petition since the remedy sought does not specifically pertain to them, as individuals. Rather, it is the CPP and the NPA which are the respondents because it is against them that the declaration is sought,” the resolution said.
“Their names appear in the Petition as members of the alleged terrorist groups but technically, they cannot be considered as party-respondents,” the lower court said.
With this finding, the court directed the DoJ “to cause service of summons to organizations CPP and NPA by publication in a newspaper of general circulation.”
“Considering the petitioner’s obvious lack of knowledge of the official address of the CPP-NPA, recourse may be made to service summons by publication, this time specifically directed to the respondent-organizations,” the ruling said.
Last March, the DoJ filed before the Manila City RTC a petition seeking to declare communist leaders and their armed members as terrorists.
The DOJ submitted to the court a list of over 600 personalities, including Ocampo, Baylosis, Corpus, Molintas, and CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison, tagging them as terrorists.
Also in the list are alleged CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni, human rights lawyer and former Baguio City councilor Jose Molintas and Cordillerans Joanna Carino, Windel Farag-ey Bolinget, Sherwin de Vera, Beverly Sakongan Longid and Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding.
The petition was filed following the termination of the peace talks between the government and the CPP in November last year.
In its petition, the DoJ cited Republic Act 9372 or The Human Security Act of 2007 in seeking the declaration of the CPP and NPA officials and members as terrorists.
The petition, signed by Senior Associate State Prosecutor Peter Ong, accused the CPP-NPA of having an “evil plan of imposing a totalitarian regime.”