The Philippine government has asked for assistance from the international community to hold accountable communist rebels for their atrocities, alleging their terrorism poses a challenge to the country’s democracy and development.

In an extensive report to the United Nations (UN) human rights body, the government highlighted its resolve to end the insurgency waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’ Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) which it claimed has cost 60,000 lives and destroyed billions of public infrastructure.

The 137-page report entitled “The Philippine Human Rights Situationer May 2020” includes government data on how the communist group allegedly exploited human rights issues and democratic spaces “for advancing their agenda of an armed revolution and covering crimes and atrocities.”

The report, recently submitted by the country’s mission to the UN in Geneva to the UN Human Rights Office, was published and released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

“The government is determined in its efforts to put an end to five decades of communist insurgency and calls on the international community to assist national efforts to hold to account the perpetrators of atrocities and crimes and to examine in this light the motives of the sources of allegations on the Philippines,” the report read.

Photo: via AFP//ManilaBulletin

“The terrorism of the CPP-NPA-NDF constitutes a challenge to the democracy and development of the Philippines. The insurgency has cost at least 60,000 lives – of civilians, CPP- NPA-NDF cadres and rebels, and soldiers. Decades of this armed struggle have ruined communities and families across the country, damaged billions worth of public infrastructure, and undermined democratic and community structures in the Philippines,” it said.

The government also alleged that the NPA harassment and extortion of revolutionary taxes from mines, plantations, transport, telecommunications, and project contractors have blocked the development of vital infrastructure in the countryside.

Legal actions have been taken against the communist leadership and members to answer before local courts “for decades of commission of terrorism and other crimes,” according to the government.

“There are numerous cases currently filed against the members of the CPP-NPA-NDF in different trial courts. These cases include murder, homicide, arson, illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and violation of Republic Act 9851, the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Law, Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity,” the report said.

Duplicity of communist rebels

In the same report, the government told the UN body about the communist group’s alleged “duplicitous” and “insidious” revolutionary dual tactic that blurs the boundaries of social activism and armed struggle towards bringing down the government and installing a communist regime.

The group “weaponizes” human rights and uses UN platforms and legal spaces to advance its anti-human rights and anti-democratic political agenda, according to the government. The communist have also allegedly used sectoral-organizing work “for political manipulation and agitation, influence operations, and as a tool for launching diplomatic offensives against the state.” The Philippine report to the UN body included the list of communist-created underground, front organizations, alliances, and networks.

“Most members of the front/ open mass organizations including networks and alliances are unwitting and to some extent are innocent prey to the duality of the predation and deception of the CPP-NPA-NDF. This happens because the recruitment for the CPP is being done discreetly and individually, not en masse,” the report read.

“The recruited cadres assume leadership positions within the front organizations/ alliances giving them the opportunity to shape and steer the organization’s agenda toward advancing and aiding the CPP’s political agenda,” it added.

President Duterte recently called the communist rebels as terrorists, days after signing the country’s new anti-terrorism law. He said communist rebels, who engaged in on and off peace negotiations with the government, think they are “a different breed.”

“They would like to be treated with another set of law. When as a matter of fact, they are terrorists,” he said in a televised address last Wednesday.

The government terminated the peace talks with the communist rebels in 2017 in protest of its violent armed activities including attacks on troops. The CPP-NPA has been declared a terrorist organization in a proclamation issued by the President in the same year.