February 25, 2018, 7:33 am
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‘Mass arrest’ for communist leaders: Duterte

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday said he would issue an order for the “mass arrest” of communist leaders and consultants released from detention last year to allow their participation in peace negotiations between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

He warned them against showing “violent resistance.”

The President made the announcement in Malacañang a day after he signed Memorandum Circular 374 declaring the CPP-NPA a terrorist group.

“For those who are out temporarily… Any day I will order for their mass arrest... You demanded --- I gave too much, too soon,” Duterte said.

The President released 32 consultants and political leaders in July last year as an act of goodwill for the peace talks. Last month, he formally terminated the peace talks months after he suspended the negotiations because of continued attacks by the NPA on government forces and civilians.

“You always insist on the rule of law. We will follow the law. And if you don’t, then the simple thing is to arrest you and place you in prison. If you [show] violent resistance, you place in danger the lives of people and the soldiers and the police, we will answer (with) the appropriate action. That is my message to the Communist Party of the Philippines,” he added.

The President said he intends to implement the arrest as well as “confiscate all those things that are not allowed by law.”

He said he continues to hope there would be a chance to revive peace talks in the future but would “bide (his) time” for now.

He assured the police and military he would consult them before resuming the talks.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said his office will file a petition next week before the Manila Regional Trial Court Monday next week or earlier to classify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

Under Republic Act 10168 or the Human Security Act of 2007, a person found guilty of terrorism shall be meted a jail term of up to 40 years without parole. 

The CPP-NPA has been in the US list of foreign terrorist organizations since 2002.

The Armed Forces said it is expecting intensified recruitment by the NPA amid renewed military offensive against the group.

AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the NPA, which has about 3,800 men, needs new fighters to confront the operating government forces.

“About the recruitment, we know that they (communists) will resort to that because their strength is declining because of the operations that we have conducted before,” said Arevalo.

The military resumed combat operations against the NPA in February when Duterte lifted the government truce with the communists.

A few days ago, the communists posted videos of three young women, named Ka Kathryn, Ka Nami and Ka Giya, wooing people to join the NPA due to various issues, including poverty and alleged state-sponsored violence. The videos were posted on the website of CPP founding
chairman Jose Maria Sison (josemariasison.org). The 78-year-old Sison has been on a self-exile in Netherlands since the late 1980s. – With Ashzel Hachero and Victor Reyes
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