Clarity of Action

Sideglance

The national government for once has openly declared, with forceful and deliberate intent, that it will exert all effort to finally put an end to the threat of the CPPNPA in the country. This is inevitable really considering that for almost half a century the CPP-NPA had been engaging in a war of attrition that has distracted previous government administrations from addressing more pressing issues during their time.

Only now in the recent steps of the government do we begin to comprehend the deliberate and systematic measures being undertaken by the present administration to lay waste to the communist insurgency through a committed and collaborative effort of all those concerned.

For starters, it was in July 3, 2020 when President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11479 which is “An Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Penalize Terrorism, Thereby Repealing Republic Act No. 9372, otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007”, or simply the “Anti- Terrorism Act of 2020”.

In Section 45 of the said law the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) was created for the purpose of implementing the said Anti-Terrorism Act.

The ATC for its part and relying on previous designations made by President Duterte (Presidential Proclamation No. 374 declaring and identifying the CPP/NPA as a terrorist organization) and other foreign nations such as the US designating the CPP/NPA as a foreign terrorist organization (August 9, 2002), the European Union (October 28, 2002), Australia (November 18, 2013, United Kingdom (July 7, 2020) and New Zealand (September 26, 2019), issued ATC Resolution No. 12 which similarly designated the CPP/NPA as terrorist organizations, associations or groups of persons.

Clearly then the government by the enactment of the above laws and edicts have made a categorical declaration, that the CPP/NPA is a terrorist organization and therefore has no place in any level or strata of a democratic society. By such a definitive position the government has provided the necessary impetus for its concerned offices and agencies to act with dispatch in areas where the threat of the CPP/NPA is deemed prevalent and where action is most needed.

And so again just recently the Department of National Defense through Secretary Delfin Lorenza after careful determination decided to unilaterally abrogate a 1986 agreement it entered into with the University of the Philippines that prohibits any military and police presence or operation inside the campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP) without prior notice.

The reason given by DND Secretary Lorenza for the termination of the pact is that a number of UP students have been identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) with some of them being killed during military and police operations and with others being captured or having surrendered to the authorities.

The Secretary further stated in a letter sent to UP President Danilo Concepcion that “the said UP students were recruited by the CPP/NPA, an organization declared by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as a terrorist organization”.

In response UP President Danilo Conception also wrote DND Secretary Lorenza and explained that, “Perhaps this will be a good opportunity to emphasize that we sought and secured that agreement not to evade or weaken the law, but to protect the climate of academic freedom—guaranteed by the Constitution—that makes intellectual inquiry and human and social advancement possible. We want to maintain UP as a safe haven for all beliefs and forms of democratic expression. In that, all the signatories to the agreement believed and bound themselves to uphold. Our University community does not and cannot fear the fair and speedy enforcement of the law, and we value and appreciate the contributions of our uniformed services to our safety and security. We do not condone sedition, armed insurrection, or the use of violence for political ends. At the same time, especially given our experience of martial law, we must reject any form or semblance of militarization on our campuses, which will have a chilling effect deleterious to academic freedom. This abrogation endangers the goodwill necessary for both of us to achieve our mission as responsible members of the same national family. Our police and military authorities should have no fear of academic freedom.”

Quite a very good explanation provided by the UP President but evidently did not fully comprehend the basis for the unilateral termination by the DND of its agreement with UP. It is not academic freedom which the authorities fear but the effort of recruitment undertaken by the CPP/NPA already tagged as a terrorist group from the ranks of students inside the various UP campuses, an educational institution that is owned by the State. If indeed UP is a willing and responsible member of the national family as its president claims then it will have no difficulty in issuing a declaration to outlaw the CPP/NPA organizations, associations, or group of members from its campuses.

If the government is to achieve clarity of action in its war against the CPP/NPA then it must compel UP, as a State institution funded by taxpayers money, to make a clear stand that it will not allow the CPP/NPA to subvert the academic freedom the educational institution enjoys for the purpose of recruiting members in its campaign to topple the government.