MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte labeled on Tuesday the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist organizations, following the collapse of peace talks.
Duterte signed the official resolution that places both organizations under the Philippine anti-terrorist law, which carries 40-year prison sentences, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a press conference.
He added that these measures were a response to “continued violent acts of the CPP-NPA which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”
He added that the resolution would also allow for the prosecution of those who finance the communist insurgency, and could also have an impact on future United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding terrorist activity in the Philippines.
Founded in 1969, the NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, although the Philippine government had withdrawn this classification in 2011 to facilitate peace talks.
The CPP, whose leader Jose Maria Sison lives in exile in the Netherlands, does not hide its links with the NPA and has explicitly supported its actions in a struggle that has caused more than 30,000 deaths in the last five decades.
Last month, two communist attacks killed a soldier, a police official, and a 4-year old child, as well as injuring several civilians, which prompted Duterte to announce the measure on Tuesday.
The armed forces have intensified their attacks against the rebels, who have suffered dozens of losses in the last few weeks.
Under Duterte’s mandate, which started on June 30, 2016, a ceasefire was signed in Aug. 2016 that lasted until the beginning of February this year, when the communists decided to break it unilaterally.
On Nov. 3, the Philippine Communist Party rejected a new offer from the government for peace talks, as well as the proposal to re-integrate part of the rebels into society by providing them with housing and work in exchange for their surrender.