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Witch hunt! Makabayan bloc slams gov’t terror list bearing 600 names including comrades

by Xave Gregorio

Lawmakers in the left-leaning Makabayan bloc slammed what they called a “malicious terror tagging of progressives” after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to declare 649 individuals as terrorists, including some among their ranks.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the terrorist list is “straight out of the bag off tricks” of former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who “tried and failed to suppress and eliminate their principled and organized critics and the opposition.”

“Many will see this as nothing but a calculated and vicious harassment suit against critics of the Duterte administration,” Zarate said.

Included in the list are Bayan Muna’s officers, namely its president and former Rep. Satur Ocampo, officer Vicente Ladlad and staff Brenda Biernes – all accused to be members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

Zarate also said leaders of legal progressive organizations, namely Anakpawis partylist chairman Randall Echanis and former Selda officer Eliza Lubi, were also accused of being communist rebels.

“The allegations in this malicious court petition are utterly false. Instead, of recognizing the legitimacy of the causes espouse by revolutionary groups and legal democratic organizations, the Duterte administration is pursuing even further the militarist line of terrorist-tagging,” Zarate said, who added that it is the state which unleashes terrorism.

Also included in the terror list is UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who was recently called out by the Palace over her criticism of alleged military attacks and killings of Lumad in Mindanao.

The list, which also seeks to tag as terrorists Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, its alleged chairman Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma, shows that President Rodrigo Duterte is “paranoid” over the “mounting discontent” of people, Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said.

“This petition with random names looks utterly more ridiculous than it seems,” De Jesus said.

She added the DOJ should brace for a “major embarrassment” for naming Corpuz as a member of the CPP and NPA.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago denounced the list as a “witch hunt, a desperate move of a looming dictatorship after realizing that all the steps he has taken are frustrated by the people’s collective action.”

“The ‘list’ is but the executive’s license bestowed on military and uniformed personnel and paramilitary groups to perpetrate human rights violations,” Elago said.

The list, filed February 21 with the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19, contains names of 649 individuals – 188 of which are aliases – who are allegedly members of the CPP and NPA.

This comes months after Duterte signed Proclamation No. 374 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization following the termination of peace talks with the Communist rebels.