On Manila RTC ruling junking proscription case

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
September 22, 2022

Terrorist-labeling will not end the armed conflict. The key take-away in the Manila RTC decision to junk the terrorist-labeling vs the CPP and NPA is that those taking up arms based on a political cause are not terrorists and that armed conflict is rooted in social ills.

To quote the decision: “Rebellion is rooted in a discontent of the existing order which is perceived to be unjust and inequitable to the majority, and favourable to the wealthy, ruling few.”

“However, the CPP can only gain adherents for as long as the government remains insensitive to, and incompetent in addressing, the social realities of poverty and material inequality which bring with them the oppression of the marginalized.”

The ruling calls on the government to address the roots of the armed conflict in order to end the insurgency.

“The government can, while uncompromising in its fight against Communism, regard the CPP’s act of taking the cudgels of the marginalized – as an impetus to better address these sectors’ concerns,” it said.

The ruling likewise reminds government of upholding human rights in the course of fighting the insurgency. “Efforts on the part of the present government to counter insurgency should include respect for the right to dissent, to due process and to the rule of law.”

We have said it before, labeling revolutionaries and those engaged in peace negotiations as “terrorists” is wrong, counter-productive and undermines any possibility of a political settlement in the armed conflict.

Contrary to military propaganda that peace talks achieve nothing, the GRP and the NDFP were already close to making a breakthrough in 2017 with agreements on socio-economic reforms that included land reform, rural development and national industrialization. This would then pave the way for an interim peace agreement. This opportunity was squandered by the past administration when it terminated the talks and made terrorist-labeling and all-out war its main policy.

The Philippine government should abandon the policy of terrorist-labeling and apply the framework of International Humanitarian Law to the armed conflict in the Philippines. The Philippine government should pursue a policy of peace negotiations that addresses the social basis of the conflict in order to achieve a just and lasting peace. ###