European Union Includes New People's Army in List of Terror organizations.(Main News)

Manila Bulletin, October 31, 2002 | Go to article overview
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European Union Includes New People's Army in List of Terror organizations.(Main News)

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Blas F. Ople yesterday announced that the European Union has declared the New People's Army of the Philippines a foreign terrorist organization and Jose Ma. Sison, its founding chairman, as a terrorist.

Ople said the European Union Council of Ministers, based in Brussels, Belgium, adopted this "common position" on Oct. 28 and published its decision in the Official Journal of European Communities edition of Oct. 30. Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and EU Clemencio Montesa immediately communicated the EU decision to the home office.

The secretary said he relayed the report to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was transiting San Francisco for the homeward journey from Los Cabos, Mexico, where she attended the 10th APEC Summit together with 20 other heads of states from the countries of the Pacific rim.

Ople led a special diplomatic mission sent by President Arroyo to Europe to convince European governments to declare the CPP-NPA a foreign terrorist organization. The mission included Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Eduardo Ermita, Presidential Adviser on Special Concerns Norberto Gonzales, PMS Secretary Silvestre Afable Jr., Undersecretary Abraham Purugganan of the Office of the President, and Ople's Special Assistant Carlos "King" Sorreta Jr.

Explaining the significance of the EU decision, Ople said there were three major implications:

1. The denial of visas - no sanctuary anywhere in Europe.

2. Freezing of funds and assets.

3. Cutting off of funding sources.

The foreign secretary immediately thanked the EU's foreign and justice ministers with whom he held bilateral dialogues during the week ending Oct. 21 in Madrid. The Ople mission covered six countries in seven days, from Berlin to Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, to Brussels and Madrid.

The secretary then traveled to Los Cabos, Mexico, to join President Arroyo at the 10th APEC Summit and for more bilateral meetings with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda of Mexico, Vice Minister Toshimitsu Tomegui of Japan, and Foreign Minister Rabie Namaliu of Papua New Guinea.

Ople said that since EU decisions on counter-terrorism were based on consensus or "common position," the decision on Sison and the NPA meant this was adopted unanimously.

The secretary said there was apparently no consensus reached on the Communist Party of the Philippines, because the Philippine government itself considers the CPP a legal party, following the repeal of Republic Act 1717, the Anti-Subversion Law, in 1995, and the government was keeping open the lines of communication with the party in a peace process.

For example, the Spanish government had informed Ople that it could recognize the CPP or the NDF as terrorist only if the Philippines would refuse to negotiate with them.

But he said that in declaring Sison as a foreign terrorist, the label necessarily also implicated the CPP, of which he was founding chairman, and the NDF, which he also heads as Armando Liwanag.

On Aug. 9, the United States State Department declared the CPP-NPA a foreign terrorist organization and just a few days later, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Canada followed with their own separate declarations.

The Australian government has also declared the CPP-NPA a foreign terrorist organization. The Department of Foreign Affairs was so notified by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer with whom Ople had conducted a bilateral dialogue at the margins of the World Economic Forum, recently held in Kuala Lumpur.

Ople said that with the decisions taken by the EU and Australia, besides earlier rulings by the US, UK, the Netherlands and Canada, the "NDF-CPP-NPA are now proscribed internationally.

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