The Philippines is seeking to declare over 600 alleged communist guerrillas “terrorists,” according to a government petition in court seen by Reuters.
The country's justice ministry said last month that it was seeking for a Manila court to officially declare both the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA) as “terrorist” groups.
Among those targeted are Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who was a United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, four Catholic priests, Communist Party founder Jose Maria Sison, and several former lawmakers.
“Duterte is engaged in a wild anti-communist witchhunt under the guise of anti-terrorism,” Sison said. “Duterte is truly the No. 1 terrorist in the Philippines.”
The NPA has waged a People's War against the Philippines government, which is called “semifeudal” and “semicolonial” for half a century. When President Rodrigo Duterte came to office in 2016, some expected him to seek a solution to the conflict when he freed several communist prisoners.
Those hopes were quickly shattered, as Duterte quickly became among the harshest anti-communist leaders the Philippines has had since its military dictatorship.