State power over terrorism

Published March 14, 2019, 12:49 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Erik Espina
Erik Espina

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada understood the problem of insurgency and terrorism. Handicapped by a legal-leg to comprehensively address both armed threats to the republic, presidential fiat was the alternative, with “total war.” The policy direct and terse: “There is only one flag. One republic. One armed force. And the AFP is not prohibited from entering any part of Philippine territory.” In his view, The MILF, the CPP-NPA, with their associates were threats to law, order, and progress. The MILF was a vanquished problem after the fall of Camp Abubakr with 40 satellite camps. Their leaders scurried back to their paymaster in Putra Jaya. Had Erap not been maneuvered out of office, the Communist peril would have been resolved under his watch. Indeed, the movie star knows how to be president in a crisis situation. He would and could have provisioned a nation waking up the next morning, without the gestating evils against peace.

Under Ramon Magsaysay, Sr., “all-out war and all-out friendship” was wisdom behind his success over insurgents. He, however, had by his side the legal arsenal to cut the philosophical sophistry between Communism of the mind and of rebellion gripping Philippine society. State power was exercised via RA 1700, the Anti-Subversion Law, “An act to out-law the CPP & similar associations, penalizing membership therein.” Passed on June 20, 1957, one clause states the CPP is “an organized conspiracy to overthrow the government not only by force and violence, but also by deceit, subversion, and other illegal means for the purpose of establishing a totalitarian regime…. The continued existence and activities of the CPP constitutes a clear, present, and grave danger to the security of the Philippines…whoever willfully and by overt acts affiliates himself and becomes or remains member of the CPP or any subversive association shall be penalized — by 1) arresto mayor, 2) a abn from holding any public office, and 3) denial of the right to vote.

Heightened terrorism today requires a hybrid RA 1700 and our version of the US Foreign Intelligence Service Act.