NDF calls on supporters to step up militant action vs. Duterte's order

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — The National Democratic Front (NDF) on Wednesday called on its supporters to step up militant actions against the government proclamation declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.

NDF consultant Luis Jalandoni said demonstrations must be held to protest President Rodrigo Duterte's order labeling the CPP-NPA as terrorists.

Jalandoni also said communist members out on bail for the peace talks should take precaution as Duterte has already ordered their arrest.

"Those who would be threatened with arrest will have to take the necessary precautions and the CPP-NPA-NDF, are saying, those who are threatened with arrest, could also take advantage of the safety being offered in the countryside by the NPA and the mass organization there," he said.

The NDF consultant added Duterte has shut the door to peace with his latest move against the CPP-NPA.

He insisted that contrary to the declaration, the public knows better — pointing out that the decades-armed conflict is rooted in poverty and social injustice greatly affecting most Filipinos.

Despite this development, the NDF said it will still pursue the peace process, but most likely with the next administration.

Both the NDF and leaders of militant groups are saying they have yet to study the legal implications of the President's declaration.

The militant groups also said there is an increased feeling of insecurity as Duterte's declaration may be sending a "chilling effect" on groups being associated with the communist movement.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes said the situation now can be compared to former President Ferdinand Marcos' martial rule where critics of government were charged with various offenses in order to silence them.

"'Yung mga kasamahan natin kinakasuhan ng [others are being charged with] rebellion, but these charges are dismissed by the courts, kasi walang basis e [because there is no basis]. We are in the legal arena, ang gusto ba nila alisin kami [do they want to remove us from the] legal arena and force everyone to go underground?" Reyes said.

While the President's declaration may directly target the communist movement and its perceived supporters, advocates warn this will eventually have an impact on the ordinary Filipinos' civil liberties, including freedom of assembly and free speech.