The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has ordered the freezing of accounts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and other terrorist groups.
Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the freeze order has been approved by the AMLC last 23 December.
“Per AMLC Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela, the AMLC approved its freeze order against the CPP-NPA and other designated terrorist groups,” Guevarra noted.
This means that the AMLC can conduct actions against the groups’ bank accounts at any time after due designation from the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).
The ATC has issued a resolution on 9 December designating the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations stating “there is probable cause that the CPP-NPA committed acts defined as terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act, and should be tagged as terrorist organizations, associations or groups of persons.”
While the ATC is mandated to designate individuals or groups as terrorists, following the guidelines set by the United Nations Security Council, only the Court of Appeals (CA) can order their proscription.
The council’s designation would not mean automatic arrest or detention but would prompt the council to request the AMLC to freeze their accounts and assets of the designated terrorists.
The council mentioned a petition filed by the DoJ seeking to outlaw the revolutionary group that is pending in the CA.
IS sympathizers included
ATC’s terrorist tag also included those on the Islamic State (IS) East Asia, Maute Group, Daulah Islamiyah and other associated groups.
Two separate resolutions were signed by ATC chair, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and the body’s vice chair, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
The ATC is composed of nine members of the Cabinet including the Executive Secretary, National Security Adviser, Secretaries of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Interior and Local Government, Finance, Information and Communications Technology, and the AMLC Executive Director.
ATC Resolution 12 used as a basis the 21 February 2018 petition filed by the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the DoJ before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19, docketed as Case R-MNL-18-00925-CV, “praying that the CPP-NPA be declared as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations, and/or group of persons pursuant to Section 17 of Republic Act 9372, otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007.”
The petition said the CPP-NPA “was organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism and, for almost half a century, has been and is still using acts of terror to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to overthrow the duly constituted authorities and seize control of the Philippine Government through armed struggle.”
It also cited 12 incidents that constitute terrorist acts of murder, kidnapping and arson to prove that the CPP-NPA continues to commit acts of terror to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic.
“Filing of the said petition by the NPS, DoJ clearly established the existence of probable cause that the CPP-NPA committed, or attempted to commit, or conspired in the commission of the acts defined and penalized by the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act),” ATC Resolution 12 read.
In justifying the designations, the resolution invoked Presidential Proclamation 374 issued on 5 December 2017 declaring the group as designated/identified terrorist organizations under Section 3 (e)(1) of Republic Act 10168, otherwise known as “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.”
The resolution also cited the United States’ designation of the CPP-NPA as a “foreign terrorist organization” in August 2002 and those made by the European Union, Australia, United Kingdom, all in 2002; and New Zealand, in 2010.
“Now, therefore, the ATC, by virtue of the powers vested in us by Section 45 of ATA and pursuant to paragraph 3 of Section 25 of the ATA, finds probable cause that the CPP-NPA committed or conspired to commit the acts defined and penalized under Section 4 of the ATA and hereby designates the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations, associations or groups of persons,” it added.
ATC Resolution 13, meanwhile, said the Philippines, as a United Nations (UN) member, has an obligation to take the aforesaid measures “with respect to all individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities included in the list created pursuant to UNSCR 1267 (1999), 1333 (2000), 1989 (2011), 2083 (2012) and 2161 (2014), regardless of the nationality or residence of such individuals, groups, undertakings, or entities.”
This is only fitting considering that some militant groups in the Philippines pledged allegiance to the ISIL and to its erstwhile leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, following the declaration of the caliphate in June 2014 after the group took control of large swathes of land straddling Iraq and Syria.
“Whereas, the Marawi siege in 2017 has served as a paradigm
for like-minded groups and personalities in Southeast Asia and other parts of the globe to join the militants in the southern Philippines in their ambition to establish a caliphate in Mindanao, as what the Da’esh leadership has been advocating,” it added.