WE strongly denounce the draconian and lawless order which President Rodrigo Duterte gave for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to destroy also the supposed, alleged, suspected, purported or imagined legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Such an order is further exacerbated by Secretary Martin Andanar, arguably a media practitioner who has totally forgotten what rights and freedoms really mean, as supposedly meant to impute certain party-list groups and non-government organizations. The order, coming from the Commander-in-Chief, puts the the parliamentary and legal struggles of the Filipino people and State security forces in the dangerous crossroad.
There is evident danger in that all legal organizations, non-government organizations, peoples’ and mass organization and even party-list groups, maliciously suspected of being legal fronts of the CPP become targets of the lethal actions of the armed forces. The members of these supposed legal fronts are threatened with any and all destructive acts from the whole repressive apparatus of government.
Without mentioning any specific legal organizations, the order makes all those red-tagged by the military on sheer suspicion and reckless association as included and allows the military to usurp judicial determination at the expense of due process and the justice system.
By what law or legal authority then is the Duterte government authorized to issue that order? The last time we know, we have a Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution to provide limits to the vast powers of the government.
The Bill of Rights guarantees to the Filipino people the rights to political beliefs, to petition the government for redress of grievances and against any governmental action that deprives life, liberty or property without the mandatory requirement of due process of law.
Duterte’s order to destroy the suspected legal fronts of the CPP, as it is addressed to the armed forces of the government, has its implementation by military action or means involving destructive acts against freedoms, liberties and even lives. What is telling is that these suspected legal fronts are the most vocal critics, either in the parliament, in the streets or other legal fora, of the Duterte government and its policies and actions that are oppressive to the Filipino people.
As during the Arroyo regime that considered them as “enemies of the state” and in the mold of McCarthyism, the Duterte government continues to tag them to its war against the CPP-NPA. Just because they consistently stand in the way, opposing, exposing and criticizing the government’s anti-people policies and actions, the Duterte government wants to bully them to submission and silence.
It cannot, however, forcibly suppress the valid and legitimate criticisms and oppositions from the supposed legal fronts and their members-social activists without trampling on basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, with which it has a duty to the Filipino people to uphold and protect.
With that bellicose order, it is evident that the Duterte government wants to impose its will on the people, without any respect for valid and legitimate criticisms and for any legal activities that may constitute resistance to government actions. With that order, does the Duterte government now admit that it is responsible for the brutal execution of Atty. Ben Ramos of NUPL-Negros Chapter, who has been red-tagged prior to his killing last November, for the numerous extrajudicial killings involving peasant leaders and other activists belonging to the suspected legal fronts being red-tagged as such?
With such kind of orders and mindset and its lawless governance, this government forfeits altogether whatever moral authority it has usurped when it sees red all over. #
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Atty. Jose Begil
NUPL Vice-President for Mindanao