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FILE SUBMISSIONS TO AUSTRALIAN DFAT FOR REMOVING PROF. JOSE MARIA SISON, CPP AND NPA FROM TERRORIST LIST

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FILE SUBMISSIONS TO AUSTRALIAN DFAT FOR REMOVING PROF. JOSE MARIA SISON, CPP AND NPA FROM TERRORIST LIST

Dear Friend,

Please find attached three submissions to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), one to take the Jose Maria Sison off the Foreign Minister’s Terrorist List, and the other two to take off the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Below is the notice posted on the DFAT website (link is under ‘counter terrorism’ at the bottom of the DFAT frontpage).

The deadline is this Friday, and you can submit by email.

It is a scandal that these listings ever happened, and it is well overdue that they be rescinded.

The draft submissions attached, while brief, contain the necessary information. You could choose to send the entire submission on your letterhead, or you could summarise it down if you wish.

I hope that DFAT receives a large number of submissions from Australians and from many people around the world.

In solidarity

Peter Murphy
Philippines Australia Union Link

 ___________________________________________________________________________

Review of UN terrorism listings – Public Submissions
Media release

12 June 2013

Members of the public are invited to comment on a governmental review of Australia’s listings of persons and entities associated with terrorism, implemented pursuant to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1373 (2001).

UNSC resolution 1373 (2001) imposes obligations on all UN Member States to suppress terrorism. Australia implements these obligations in Part 4 of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 (the Act) and the Charter of the United Nations (Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2008. These laws make it a criminal offence to use or deal with the assets of, or to make assets available to, listed persons and entities.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs must list a person or entity if satisfied on reasonable grounds that he, she or it, meets the criteria set out in paragraph 1(c) of UNSC Resolution 1373, that is, the person or entity is:

  1. a person who commits, or attempts to commit, terrorist acts or participates in, or facilitates, the commission of terrorist acts;
  2. an entity owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such a person; or
  3. a person or entity acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, such a person or entity.

The listing of a person or entity expires after three years, unless it is extended by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The listings of 87 of the 93 currently listed persons and entities are due to expire in 2013. The Government is reviewing these listings to determine whether they should be extended.

The details of persons and entities listed by the Australian Government pursuant to UNSC resolution 1373 (2001), including when a listing expires, can be found on the DFAT Consolidated List.

Submissions

The Government invites public comments related to any listed person or entity whose listing is due to expire in 2013. Submissions should provide information or comment on whether the individual or entity meets the criteria set out in paragraph 1(c) of UNSC resolution 1373 (2001) (see above).

All submissions should be e-mailed to: [email protected]

Alternatively, submissions can be posted to:

Attention Director, Sanctions and Transnational Crime Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R.G. Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221 Australia

Submissions must be received by 12 July 2013. The Department reserves the right not to consider late submissions.

Revocation

Separate from the review of listings, a listed person or entity may apply at any time to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to have the listing revoked. The application must be in writing and set out the circumstances relied upon to justify the application.

Applications may be submitted in writing to:

The Minister for Foreign Affairs
Attention Director, Sanctions and Transnational Crime Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221
AUSTRALIA

or by e-mail to: [email protected]

For more information: DFAT Media Liaison: (02)6261 1555

Peter Murphy
Coordinator
SEARCH Foundation
128 Chalmers St, Surry Hills, 2010

_________________________________________________________________________

Submission to Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs on the listing of Jose Maria Sison
Director, Sanctions and Transnational Crime Section
Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
BARTON ACT 0221
Australia
[email protected]

Remove Jose Maria Sison from the terrorist list for financial asset freezing

Background

Jose Maria Sison was listed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on October 28, 2002, under Charter of the United Nations (Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2008.

At the time, the Foreign Minister made a media statement jointly with the then Attorney-General, but in relation to Jose Maria Sison it simply said:

    “The latest list includes organisations and individuals linked to Al Qaida and the Taliban and a number of internationally recognised foreign terrorist organisations, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

    “Similar action has been and continues to be taken by the United States, the European Union and other countries”.

Clearly, the Minister at the time felt no need to justify his listing beyond saying that other countries had done something similar – that the targeted individuals or groups were ‘internationally recognised foreign terrorist organisations’. The Minister did not refer to the criteria set out in UNSC Resolution 1373.

Despite repeated requests since 2002 for Jose Maria Sison to be removed from the list, this has never occurred, nor has any justification been presented apart from verbal statements from DFAT officers.

It is our contention that the listing of Jose Maria Sison from the beginning has been politically motivated, and an abuse of the concept of anti-terrorism, and that it should now be withdrawn, immediately, not waiting until November 2013.

Part of the political motivation was and continues to be aimed at disrupting or stopping the formal peace talks taking place between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which began in 1992.

Jose Maria Sison is the Principal Political Consultant to the NDFP in the peace process.

Jose Maria Sison de-listed in the European Union

Jose Maria Sison was listed in a similar way by the US State Department on August 12, 2002, and by the Dutch Government on August 13, 2002, and by the European Union on October 28, 2002.

The European Court of the First Instance annulled the EU listing by a decision in 2007, on the grounds that no statement of reasons had been given for the listing, but before this decision was handed down, the Council of the European Union re-listed him and sent him a statement of reasons, and called for him to comment within one month.

On December 20, 2007, the Council of the European Union issued a new terrorist list in which it included Jose Maria Sison and the New People’s Army, and a letter to this effect was sent to Mr Sison, with a statement of reasons, on January 3, 2008. Then on April 29, 2008, the Council of the European Union maintained both Mr Sison and the New People’s Army on the list, but amended the entries. Mr Sison was informed by letter on February 25, 2008, of ‘updated reasons’ and Mr Sison was given one month to comment.

Jose Maria Sison maintained in his responses that the judgements of the Dutch Courts failed to satisfy the requirements laid down by the relevant Community legislation to serve as the basis for a decision to freeze funds.

The Council of the European Union maintained Mr Sison and the New People’s Army on its list by decision in July 2008, January 2009, and June 15, 2009. In each instance, a statement of reasons identical to that of February 25, 2008 was sent to Mr Sison.

Mr Sison commenced legal action against the Council of the European Union on September 10, 2007, to annul the decision of 2007 and to seek compensation.

By decisions in February and April 2008, the Court granted the governments of the UK, Netherlands, and the Commission of the European Communities leave to intervene in support of the Council of the European Union, which sought to have Mr Sison’s application dismissed and costs awarded against him.

On September 30, 2009, the European Court of the First Instance ruled that all the listings of Jose Maria Sison as a terrorist, since 2002, were invalid.

The primary reason for this is that at no stage had any judicial decision been made to investigate or prosecute Jose Maria Sison for terrorism offences.

The European Court found that the Dutch government relied on incidental views about Mr Sison’s alleged involvement in terrorism in two Dutch Court cases whose main concern was whether or not Mr Sison should be considered a refugee and provided with a residence permit for the Netherlands. These Dutch cases were conducted in 1995 and 1997.

Of most importance was that neither these of these cases led to an investigation and prosecution of Jose Maria Sison for terrorism offences in the Netherlands.

When there were prosecutions against Jose Maria Sison for two murder cases in the Philippines in 2003 and 2004, the charges were dismissed by the Philippines Supreme Court in July 2007 as “politically motivated”. And a concurrent investigation of Jose Maria Sison in the Netherlands on the same matter was closed by the examining judge on November 21, 2007, for want of serious evidence. In any case, the European Court found that the alleged murders were not considered to be acts of terrorism, and so were not relevant to a terrorist listing.

Minister’s criteria

a. A person who commits, or attempts to commit, terrorist acts or participates in, or facilitates, the commission of terrorist acts;

It is evident from the European Court case that Jose Maria Sison has never been charged with or convicted of a terrorist offence in the Philippines or anywhere else; and that while he has been charged with murder in the Philippines the case was thrown out as politically motivated; and that while he was investigated for these murders in the Netherlands as well, the case was abandoned for lack of serious evidence.

Therefore, under criteria a the Minister cannot continue to list Jose Maria Sison

b. An entity owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such a person;
Since Jose Maria Sison is a person and not an entity, this criteria cannot be used by the Minister to list Jose Maria Sison.

c. A person or entity acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, such a person or entity.
Since Jose Maria Sison is the person being listed, this criteria cannot be used to justify his listing, because he is himself the person referred to in criteria a.

Conclusion

In our view, the Minister has no option other than to remove Jose Maria Sison from the terrorist list, because plainly he is not a terrorist.

The inclusion of Jose Maria Sison in the financial asset freezing terrorist list was never justified, apart from pleading that somebody else had decided that he was a terrorist.

This listing is a blot on Australia’s sovereignty, and a case of Australia interfering in the internal affairs of the Philippines, and undermining a peace process which is sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Government.

As well as removing Jose Maria Sison from the list, the Australian Foreign Minister should admit this error, and apologise to Jose Maria Sison, to the Philippines Government and to the Royal Norwegian Government.

Please click here to view file in PDF or on the link below:
Submission to Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs on the listing of Jose Maria Sison

=========================================================

Submission to Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs on the listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines
Director, Sanctions and Transnational Crime Section
Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
BARTON ACT 0221
Australia
[email protected]

Remove the Communist Party of the Philippines from the terrorist list for financial asset freezing

Background

The Communist Party of the Philippines was listed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on October 28, 2002, under Charter of the United Nations (Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2008.

At the time, the Foreign Minister made a media statement jointly with the then Attorney-General, but in relation to the CPP it simply said:

    “The latest list includes organisations and individuals linked to Al Qaida and the Taliban and a number of internationally recognised foreign terrorist organisations, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

    “Similar action has been and continues to be taken by the United States, the European Union and other countries”.

Clearly, the Minister at the time felt no need to justify his listing beyond saying that other countries had done something similar – that the targeted individuals or groups were ‘internationally recognised foreign terrorist organisations’. The Minister did not refer to the criteria set out in UNSC Resolution 1373.

Despite repeated requests since 2002 for the CPP to be removed from the list, this has never occurred, nor has any justification been presented.

It is our contention that the listing of the CPP from the beginning has been politically motivated, and an abuse of the concept of anti-terrorism, and that it should now be withdrawn, immediately, not waiting until November 2013.

Part of the political motivation for this listing was and continues to be aimed at disrupting or stopping the formal peace talks taking place between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which began in 1992, and continue today.

The Communist Party of the Philippines

The CPP is a major constituent organisation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, having helped to organise the NDFP in 1973 from the many popular organisations of peasants, workers, students, women, clergy and professionals which were banned at martial Law in September 1972.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, whose origins go back to 1930, was re-founded in December 1968, banned under the Marcos dictatorship, and them un-banned under the Ramos Presidency in 1992, as part of the President’s policy of reintegrating all armed rebel forces into the political process.

The Communist Party of the Philippines is a legal organisation in the Philippines, but its members continue to be severely persecuted under political laws related to ‘rebellion’ or criminal laws related to firearms, explosives etc. To be accused of being a ‘communist’ in the Philippines is to have a death warrant over your head.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has a broad program for ‘national democratic revolution’ in the Philippines, which it characterizes as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. The CPP has a longer term perspective of building a socialist society.

The program of the national democratic revolution is for genuine land reform, and national industrialization, to struggle for full national independence, to empower the working people, to realize democracy both in the sense of upholding civil and political rights and liberating the peasantry from feudal and semi-feudal captivity, to promote a national, scientific and mass culture and to foster international solidarity and world peace against imperialism.

The CPP recognises that Philippines society is dominated by US hegemony and so it is antagonistic to US government policy in the Philippines. This helps explain why the US State Department listed the CPP as a terrorist entity on August 9, 2002.

The CPP sees itself in the broad international revolutionary tradition springing from the French Revolution, and shows solidarity with similar movements internationally.

As part of its struggle in the Philippines, the CPP launched the New People’s Army in April 1969, to conduct a ‘people’s war’ for national democracy. The New People’s Army conducts its operations under international law, and only conducts these operations in the territory of the Republic of the Philippines, against armed forces of the Philippines.

Armed struggle is an extreme measure in politics, but the situation in Philippines society is also extremely violent, with political murders a normal feature even in elite circles, as well as used against unarmed civilians who protest at unjust conditions at the grassroots. While the Marcos dictatorship was notorious, violent political repression by the state continued after the overthrow of Marcos in February 1986. In these circumstances the CPP has made a reasonable strategic decision that to advance the interests of the great majority of Filipino people, it must organise a people’s army as well as other forms of political struggle.

By way of analogy, the African National Congress, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, decided to form Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) as its liberation army, following the Sharpeville Massacre in March 1960. The ANC was routinely tagged as ‘terrorist’ by the apartheid regime – and by Australian government – but this is now seen in retrospect to have been an error.

The armed operations led by the CPP in the Philippines are properly seen as part of a national liberation struggle within Philippines society, and this is in fact recognised by successive Philippines governments since the Ramos presidency in 1992 which have signed formal documents as part of peace negotiations, which at this stage are conducted under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government.

The Philippines government and the NDFP promulgated on September 1, 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration as the framework agreement for the peace negotiations between them, with the Dutch government as facilitator. The agreement stipulates that the aim of the peace negotiations is to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict and forging comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. It also stipulates that no side shall impose on the other any precondition that negates the character and purpose of peace negotiations.

It lays down the substantive agenda for making the following four comprehensive agreements:

    * respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,
    * social and economic reforms,
    * political and constitutional reforms and
    * the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

It required the sequential formation of Reciprocal Working Committees to draft the tentative comprehensive agreements to be finalized by the negotiating panels and to be ultimately approved by the principals of the negotiating parties.

However, further exploratory talks were interrupted by the Philippines government’s unilateral act of forming the National Unification Commission (NUC) for government-managed fake localized peace negotiations. After the NUC was dissolved, the Philippines government and NDFP made further major agreements in 1995 to strengthen the peace process, such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) on for the negotiators, consultants and related personnel on both sides, the Ground Rules for Meetings of the Negotiating Panels, and the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees.

The Philippines government and the NDFP negotiating panels held the opening of formal peace negotiations in Brussels, Belgium in 1995, with the Belgian government as facilitator. The negotiations were interrupted for more than a year because of the failure of the Philippines government to release from prison NDFP consultant Sotero Llamas in accordance with the JASIG. The Philippines government and NDFP negotiating panels cooperated in persuading President Ramos to override the objection of the defense secretary to the release of Llamas.

They resumed negotiations upon the release of Llamas in 1996. They succeeded in finalising and signing the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on March 16, 1998. The NDFP principal, the chairman of the NDFP National Council, signed and approved it promptly on April 10, 1998. But the President Ramos failed to approve it before the end of his term of office in the same year. President Estrada approved it on August 7, 1998. But he would unilaterally find cause to terminate the JASIG and in effect the peace negotiations in May 1999.

After the Estrada regime fell in January 2001, as a result of massive protests against corruption, the President Arroyo agreed with the NDFP to resume the peace negotiations, to reaffirm all previous agreements, to operationalize the Joint Monitoring Committee under CARHRIHL and to have the Royal Norwegian Government as facilitator of the peace negotiations. But in June 2001, it suddenly decided to paralyse the peace negotiations and pursue a brutal policy of all-out military suppression against the revolutionary movement.

Peace talks were properly re-started by President Aquino in early 2011. The NDFP negotiating panel and the newly-composed GRP negotiating panel met and issued a joint statement in Oslo in February 2011, reaffirming all previous agreements, but since then the Philippines government has delayed in proceeding to proper negotiation of draft texts on social and economic reforms.
It is a grievous error for the Australian government to interfere in this longstanding civil conflict over injustice in the Philippines, by tagging one antagonist as ‘terrorist’, and working to derail formal peace negotiations, while arming and training the security forces which have such longstanding records of human rights abuses.

The Communist Party of the Philippines is not listed as a terrorist organisation by the government of the Philippines, which in any case only brought in its Human Security Act in July 2007.

Minister’s criteria

a. A person who commits, or attempts to commit, terrorist acts or participates in, or facilitates, the commission of terrorist acts;

It is evident that the Communist Party of the Philippines has never been listed as a terrorist organisation in the Philippines, only elsewhere, and that it has not engaged in any violent activity in any country other than the Philippines.

Therefore, under criteria a, the Minister cannot continue to list the Communist Party of the Philippines.

b. An entity owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such a person;
Since the CPP is not controlled by any other entity which is properly defined as ‘terrorist’, this criteria b cannot be used by the Minister to list the CPP.

c. A person or entity acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, such a person or entity.
Since the CPP is the entity being listed, this third criteria cannot be used to justify its listing, because it is itself the entity referred to in criteria a.

Conclusion

In our view, the Minister has no option other than to remove the Communist Party of the Philippines from the terrorist list, because plainly it is not a terrorist organisation.
The inclusion of the CPP in the financial asset freezing terrorist list was never justified, apart from pleading that somebody else had decided that it was a terrorist entity.

This listing is a blot on Australia’s sovereignty, and a case of Australia interfering in the internal affairs of the Philippines, and undermining a peace process which is sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Government.

As well as removing the Communist Party of the Philippines from the list, the Australian Foreign Minister should admit this error, and apologise to the CPP, to the Philippines Government and to the Royal Norwegian Government.

Please click here to view file in PDF or on the link below:
Submission to Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs on the listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines

________________________________________________________________________

Submission to Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs on the listing of the New People’s Army of the Philippines
Director, Sanctions and Transnational Crime Section
Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
BARTON ACT 0221
Australia
[email protected]

Remove the New People’s Army of the Philippines from the terrorist list for financial asset freezing

Background

The New People’s Army of the Philippines was listed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on October 28, 2002, under Charter of the United Nations (Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2008.

At the time, the Foreign Minister made a media statement jointly with the then Attorney-General, but in relation to the NPA it simply said:

    “The latest list includes organisations and individuals linked to Al Qaida and the Taliban and a number of internationally recognised foreign terrorist organisations, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

    “Similar action has been and continues to be taken by the United States, the European Union and other countries”.

Clearly, the Minister at the time felt no need to justify his listing beyond saying that other countries had done something similar – that the targeted individuals or groups were ‘internationally recognised foreign terrorist organisations’. The Minister did not refer to the criteria set out in UNSC Resolution 1373.

Despite repeated requests since 2002 for the NPA to be removed from the list, this has never occurred, nor has any justification been presented.

It is our contention that the listing of the NPA from the beginning has been politically motivated, and an abuse of the concept of anti-terrorism, and that it should now be withdrawn, immediately, not waiting until November 2013.

Part of the political motivation for this listing was and continues to be aimed at disrupting or stopping the formal peace talks taking place between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which began in 1992, and continue today.

The New Peoples´ Army

The NPA is a major constituent organisation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The NDFP was established in 1973 from the many popular organisations of peasants, workers, students, women, clergy and professionals which were banned at Martial Law in September 1972.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, whose origins go back to 1930, was re-founded in December 1968, banned under the Marcos dictatorship, and them un-banned under the Ramos Presidency in 1992, as part of the President’s policy of reintegrating all armed rebel forces into the political process. The CPP established the New People’s Army in April 1969.

The Communist Party of the Philippines is a legal organisation in the Philippines, but its members continue to be severely persecuted under political laws related to ‘rebellion’ or criminal laws related to firearms, explosives etc. To be accused of being a ‘communist’ in the Philippines is to have a death warrant over your head.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has a broad program for ‘national democratic revolution’ in the Philippines, which it characterizes as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. The CPP has a longer term perspective of building a socialist society.

The program of the national democratic revolution is for genuine land reform, and national industrialization, to struggle for full national independence, to empower the working people, to realize democracy both in the sense of upholding civil and political rights and liberating the peasantry from feudal and semi-feudal captivity, to promote a national, scientific and mass culture and to foster international solidarity and world peace against imperialism.

The CPP recognises that Philippines society is dominated by US hegemony and so it is antagonistic to US government policy in the Philippines. This helps explain why the US State Department listed the CPP and the NPA as a terrorist entities on August 9, 2002.

The CPP sees itself in the broad international revolutionary tradition springing from the French Revolution, and shows solidarity with similar movements internationally.

As part of its struggle in the Philippines, the CPP launched the New People’s Army in April 1969, to conduct a ‘people’s war’ for national democracy. The New People’s Army conducts its operations under international law, and only conducts these operations in the territory of the Republic of the Philippines, against armed forces of the Philippines.

Armed struggle is an extreme measure in politics, but the situation in Philippines society is also extremely violent, with political murders a normal feature even in elite circles, as well as used against unarmed civilians who protest at unjust conditions at the grassroots. While the Marcos dictatorship was notorious, violent political repression by the state continued after the overthrow of Marcos in February 1986. In these circumstances the CPP has made a reasonable strategic decision that to advance the interests of the great majority of Filipino people, it must organise a people’s army as well as other forms of political struggle.

By way of analogy, the African National Congress, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, decided to form Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) as its liberation army, following the Sharpeville Massacre in March 1960. The ANC and Umkhonto were routinely tagged as ‘terrorist’ by the apartheid regime – and by Australian government – but this is now seen in retrospect to have been an error.

The armed operations by the NPA in the Philippines are properly seen as part of a national liberation struggle within Philippines society, and this is in fact recognised by successive Philippines governments since the Ramos presidency in 1992 which have signed formal documents as part of peace negotiations, which at this stage are conducted under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government.

The Philippines government and the NDFP promulgated on September 1, 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration as the framework agreement for the peace negotiations between them, with the Dutch government as facilitator. The agreement stipulates that the aim of the peace negotiations is to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict and forging comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. It also stipulates that no side shall impose on the other any precondition that negates the character and purpose of peace negotiations.

It lays down the substantive agenda for making the following four comprehensive agreements:

    * respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,
    * social and economic reforms,
    * political and constitutional reforms and
    * the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

It required the sequential formation of Reciprocal Working Committees to draft the tentative comprehensive agreements to be finalized by the negotiating panels and to be ultimately approved by the principals of the negotiating parties.

However, further exploratory talks were interrupted by the Philippines government’s unilateral act of forming the National Unification Commission (NUC) for government-managed fake localized peace negotiations. After the NUC was dissolved, the Philippines government and NDFP made further major agreements in 1995 to strengthen the peace process, such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) on for the negotiators, consultants and related personnel on both sides, the Ground Rules for Meetings of the Negotiating Panels, and the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees.

The Philippines government and the NDFP negotiating panels held the opening of formal peace negotiations in Brussels, Belgium in 1995, with the Belgian government as facilitator. The negotiations were interrupted for more than a year because of the failure of the Philippines government to release from prison NDFP consultant Sotero Llamas in accordance with the JASIG. The Philippines government and NDFP negotiating panels cooperated in persuading President Ramos to override the objection of the defense secretary to the release of Llamas.

They resumed negotiations upon the release of Llamas in 1996. They succeeded in finalising and signing the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on March 16, 1998. The NDFP principal, the chairman of the NDFP National Council, signed and approved it promptly on April 10, 1998. But the President Ramos failed to approve it before the end of his term of office in the same year. President Estrada approved it on August 7, 1998. But he would unilaterally find cause to terminate the JASIG and in effect the peace negotiations in May 1999.

After the Estrada regime fell in January 2001, as a result of massive protests against corruption, the President Arroyo agreed with the NDFP to resume the peace negotiations, to reaffirm all previous agreements, to operationalize the Joint Monitoring Committee under CARHRIHL and to have the Royal Norwegian Government as facilitator of the peace negotiations. But in June 2001, it suddenly decided to paralyse the peace negotiations and pursue a brutal policy of all-out military suppression against the revolutionary movement.

Peace talks were properly re-started by President Aquino in early 2011. The NDFP negotiating panel and the newly-composed GRP negotiating panel met and issued a joint statement in Oslo in February 2011, reaffirming all previous agreements, but since then the Philippines government has delayed in proceeding to proper negotiation of draft texts on social and economic reforms.

It is a grievous error for the Australian government to interfere in this longstanding civil conflict over injustice in the Philippines, by tagging one antagonist as ‘terrorist’, and working to derail formal peace negotiations, while arming and training the security forces which have such longstanding records of human rights abuses.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army are not listed as a terrorist organisation by the government of the Philippines, which in any case only brought in its Human Security Act in July 2007.

Minister’s criteria

a. A person who commits, or attempts to commit, terrorist acts or participates in, or facilitates, the commission of terrorist acts;

It is evident that the New People’s Army of the Philippines has never been listed as a terrorist organisation in the Philippines, only elsewhere, and that it has not engaged in any violent activity in any country other than the Philippines. While the NPA uses violence it is part of a proper national liberation struggle and not a terrorist activity.

Therefore, under criteria a, the Minister cannot continue to list the Communist Party of the Philippines.

b. An entity owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such a person;
Since the CPP is not controlled by any other entity which is properly defined as ‘terrorist’, this criteria b cannot be used by the Minister to list the CPP.

c. A person or entity acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, such a person or entity.
Since the CPP is the entity being listed, this third criteria cannot be used to justify its listing, because it is itself the entity referred to in criteria a.

Conclusion

In our view, the Minister has no option other than to remove the New People’s Army of the Philippines from the terrorist list, because plainly it is not a terrorist organisation.

The inclusion of the NPA in the financial asset freezing terrorist list was never justified, apart from pleading that somebody else had decided that it was a terrorist entity.

This listing is a blot on Australia’s sovereignty, and a case of Australia interfering in the internal affairs of the Philippines, and undermining a peace process which is sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Government.

As well as removing the New People’s Army of the Philippines from the list, the Australian Foreign Minister should admit this error, and apologise to the NPA, to the Philippines Government and to the Royal Norwegian Government.

Please click here to view file in PDF or on the link below:
Submission to Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs on the listing of the New Peoples’Army

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