On June 23 the controversial Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) listed the the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a terrorist group in their Resolution Nr. 21, which they published later. Since 1992 the NDFP plays an essential role in tackling the roots of the armed conflict between the New Peoples Army (NPA) and the government – through initiating peace talks. After four peace talks under the Duterte administration firstly resulting in hope, Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP)-NPA officially as terrorist group and in 2019 permanently ended the peace talks.
Chair of the NDFP negotiating panel, Julieta de Lima, calls the designation an „antipeace act,“ which does not only dump all achievements of the past decades and administrations, but additionally possibilities for peace negotiations in the future. Also, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) condemns the ATCs decision: it “buried 29 years of laborious and painstaking agreements and gradual steps toward peace” and “the most judicious way to address [the roots of the conflict] – poverty, landlessness, inequitable access to resources – is to resume the formal peace talks.”
The designation furthermore increases fears that more groups and activists, for instance which alone advocate for a resumption of the peace negotiations, will be targeted by the government through being able to create connections not only to the NPA but also to the NDFP. Even if the Court of Appeals (CA) disagrees with a designation of a person or group as a terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Act through the ACT, the affected will not automatically be delisted.
Read more about the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the Anti-Terrorism Council here.