Four alleged communist leaders declared as 'nonparties' in DOJ's case vs. CPP-NPA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — A Manila court has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop four alleged leftist leaders from the list of purported officers of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), in a petition to formally declare the rebel groups as terrorists.

In a resolution dated July 27, the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the cancellation and recall of summons issued to former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, alleged communist leader Rafael Baylosis, U.N. Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and a certain Jose Molintas

The court said the department's evidence had "no clear allegation" that Ocampo and Baylosis were rebel members or officers. It said statements supposedly tagging them as CPP-NPA leaders were executed 10 years ago, and even if that was true then, there is a probability they are no longer members or officers of the rebel groups.

The resolution also granted separate motions to clear Corpuz and Molintas respondents in the petition. It said other than enumerating their names, there was nothing in the petition or its attachments that point to the two being rebel officers or representatives.

The four were among the seven personalities that the DOJ tagged as "known officers" of the CPP-NPA.

The court also pointed out that the CPP and NPA are the respondents in the case because it is against the two groups that the declaration is being sought.

The legal counsel of Ocampo and Baylosis welcomed the order and called for the withdrawal of the petition.

"The policy of linking our clients, activists, and critics of the government to the CCP/NPA and tagging them as 'terrorists' must stop," the Public Interest Law Center said in a statement.

"In the absence of any evidence against them, the DOJ should just withdraw the petition for proscription," it said, adding that the includsion of the two men's names in the petition had already put their lives and security at risk.

The law firm said the order "is a vindication of our position that they are not terrorists nor involved in any terrorist act."

The DOJ filed the petition in February, following President Rodrigo Duterte's order in December 2017 to tag the rebel groups as terrorists.

The Department claimed that the CPP-NPA engaged in armed conflicts "aimed at overthrowing the government and seizing power."

It also alleged the groups continued to commit terrorist acts in different places nationwide despite then ongoing peace talks between communist rebels and the government. Duterte, later terminated the peace negotiation for the same reason.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.