DOJ will not appeal RTC ruling on CPP, NPA; will file new case with CA under ATA of 2020

Published September 23, 2022, 1:40 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog


The Department of Justice (DOJ) will no longer appeal the Manila regional trial court’s (RTC) ruling which declared that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are not terrorist organizations.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said the DOJ, which filed the dismissed petition for proscription against CPP and NPA, said on Friday, Sept. 23, a new petition will be filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) which has jurisdiction under Republic Act No. 11479, the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020.

Remulla said the Manila RTC resolved the DOJ’s 2018 petition under the provisions of RA 9372, the Act to Secure the State and Protect Our People from Terrorism or the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA 2007), which had been repealed by the 2020 ATA.

In an interview over CNN Philippines, Remulla said: “Kaya (because of this) appealing the case with the RTC will not serve us anything good. Under the new law (RA 11479), the jurisdiction for proscription of terrorist organizations will lie in the Court of Appeals.”

Last Sept. 21, Manila RTC Judge Marlo A. Magdoza-Malagar promulgated a ruling that dismissed the DOJ’s proscription petition on the basis of RA 9372.

Among other issues, Judge Malagar said in her ruling:

“Efforts on the part of the present government to counter insurgency should include respect for the right to dissent, to due process and to the rule of law. Just as the respondent organizations (CPP and NPA) are uncompromising in their ideals, so must the government be uncompromising in safeguarding the Constitution it is sworn to uphold.

“In proscription proceedings, the burden of proof lies with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prove that a group of persons, association or organization is organized for the purpose of committing terrorism, or is committing terrorist acts. Just like any judicial proceeding, the respondent terrorist organization is accorded due process of law.”

Also in her ruling, Judge Malagar explained her use of the 2007 HSA in resolving the DOJ’s petition. She said:

“In sum, an application of ATA 2020 to the present petition may amount to a violation of due process as it would make a determination of the merits of the petition for proscription filed under a repealed law (HSA 2007) by utilizing definitions and processes provided under the new law (ATA 2020). On this basis, the Court resolves to apply the definitions of ‘terrorism,’ ‘terrorist acts’ and ‘terrorist organizations’ under HSA 2007 to the present petition,” she stressed.

Remulla did not hide his dismay over the RTC ruling.

“It became a treatise on how to defend the National Democratic Front or maybe the so-called progressive movements, yung mga taong talagang lumalaban sa gobyerno na gusto talaga pabagsakin ang gobyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas (the people who want to bring down the government),” he lamented.

He said the “proceedings before the RTC were done ex parte, which means, the CPP-NPA took no means to participate despite summons made by the court.”

“It’s an ex parte proceeding where the issue was very well defined and the evidence presented was very well documented,” he pointed out.

“But when the decision came there were facts alleged not in evidence in the decision, not proven, and of course there were issues raised that were not even an issue in the case filed like red-tagging,” he lamented.

He pointed out that he does “not see how the red-tagging issue should have been tackled by the court because it was never an issue in this case.”

He also disagreed with the statement made in the ruling that cited that taking arms based on political cause “is not terrorism and that armed conflict is rooted on social ails.”

“That was never adduced as evidence. There was never a statement made by the CPP-NPA in court kasi hindi sila nag-participate (because they did not participate in the proceedings),” he stressed.

“So, for that to come from the judge just betrays the feeling of the judge towards the case. Ibig sabihin (it means), the judge already had bias from the very beginning,” he added.