by Aaron B. Recuenco
The Philippine National Police will use the anti-terrorism law in dealing with communist rebels amid the anticipated escalation of attacks by the New People’s Army after President Duterte ordered the termination of peace talks with the group.
But PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos said there should first be a formal declaration by the Philippine government that the Communist Party of the Philippines and its warmed wing are terrorists.
“It’s the application of the law because we always look at the crimes committed. If they are tagged as a terror group, their actions are now applicable under Human Security Act, a violation of the Human Security Act,” Carlos said.
The Human Security Act of 2007 or the anti-terror law of the country has harsher penalties compared to the regular penalties under the violation of the Revised Penal Code which is usually being used in filing charges against the communist rebels.
The usual charges being leveled against the communist rebels are rebellion, arson, murder, and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
There is no formal declaration yet of the CPP-NPA as a terror group although Duterte has expressed his inclination to do so.
What was issued was Proclamation 360 which terminates all the peace talks with the communist rebels.
In preparation for the escalation of attacks, Carlos said the elite forces of the PNP were already alerted to secure police stations and other vital installations in NPA-infested areas.
“We are in constant coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Our operations are intelligence-based,” said Carlos.
And as the PNP expects that there would be no Christmas truce this year, Carlos said they will not only take the defensive stance but offensive stance against the communist rebels.
“We will continue with our normal counter-insurgency operations,” said Carlos.
Police stations and police personnel are among the favorite targets of the communist rebels in their attacks. Just recently, the rebels killed a police commando and wounded 10 others in an ambush in Iloilo.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command, said the AFP has alerted all its forces in the eastern part of Mindanao in anticipation of the escalation of attacks by the communist rebels.
“We have to be vigilant, intensify our monitoring, and be pro-active in order to prevent them from terrorizing the communities,” said Madrigal.
Madrigal said all his commanders should raise their security posture and prevent the NPAs from conducting atrocities against communities, economic establishments, military posts, and personnel. (with reports from Francis T. Wakefield)