Of 135 countries, the Philippines was 10th most impacted by terrorism in the recently released Global Terrorism Index 2020 of the Institute for Economics and Peace based in Sydney, Australia.
The continuing threat of extremism to the country was nowhere plain than in the 5 December attack when dozens of gunmen allied with the Islamic State raided Datu Piang in Maguindanao, a hotbed of Muslim rebellion despite the setting up of the Bangsamoro autonomous province.
The insurgents attacked the municipal hall, the police station, a Catholic church, a Philippine Army post and torched a prowl car before leaving in a reminder that militants are consolidating forces after their failed Marawi City siege.
The Mindanao bandits, however, are not the main source of constant uncertainties but the communist New People’s Army (NPA), according to the annual Australian report.
The Global Terrorism Index said terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the world but it ranked 10 countries that suffer the most with the Philippines at the 10th spot.
“Despite a slight reduction in terrorist activity, the Philippines remains the only Southeast Asian country to be ranked in the 10 countries most impacted by the destabilizing groups.
The communist New People’s Army was the most active terrorist organization in the Philippines and was responsible over 35 percent of deaths and 38 percent of terror-related incidents in 2019, at 98 and 132 respectively,” the report noted.
In a paper submitted by the government to the United Nations Human Rights Council, it noted that the European Union (EU) designated the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA as a terrorist organization through Council Decision 2011/70/CFSP, dated 31 January 2011.
In addition, the UN through Security Council Resolutions 1379 (2002), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011) and 2225 (2015) declared the CPP-NPA terror group as responsible for committing grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict.
The paper noted the relative impunity by which terrorist front organizations operate within the so-called democratic civic spaces including in transnational international bodies, like the UN and the European Union.
Moreover, the Maoist movement is insulated from domestic anti-terror legislation through the use of advocacies, such as human rights, to block legal processes and escape accountability.
It recounted that the CPP-NPA forms civil society organizations and non-profit organizations to serve as terror front organizations which it said “is an established and well-documented practice.”
“Such a practice can be verified, among others, through publicly available videos by no less than the founder of the CPP-NPA-NDF terror group,” the report said referring to CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.
Sison’s most publicized video shows him enumerating and identifying in detail terror front organizations established to pursue revolutionary goals cleverly disguised by the legal fronts that purportedly espouse advocacies such as human rights and trade unionism.
“This kind of organizations continue to flourish and multiply under the well-protected democratic civic spaces in the Philippines,” according to the report.
The prevailing condition brings the necessity for the strengthened Anti-Terrorism Act to be implemented and obstacles to it removed.
Globally, the Philippines is considered as among the epicenters of terrorist activities and the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte have banded to prevent a solution to it.
They become co-conspirators in effect.