Philippines seeks ‘terrorist’ tag for 600 alleged communist guerrillas

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison are among those the Philippine government wants to be declared as ‘terrorists’. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Philippines seeks ‘terrorist’ tag for 600 alleged communist guerrillas

MANILA: A UN special rapporteur, a former Philippine lawmaker and four former Catholic priests are among more than 600 alleged communist guerrillas the Philippines wants declared “terrorists,” according to a government petition filed in court.
The justice ministry last month announced it wanted a Manila court to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), “terrorist” organizations, but made no mention of individuals it would also target.
The petition, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, suggests President Rodrigo Duterte is following through on his threats to destroy a movement that he now regards as duplicitous.
Within weeks of taking office in July 2016, he freed some communist leaders and put leftists in his cabinet, to show his commitment to finding a permanent solution to a five-decade conflict.
But he abandoned the process in November after what he said were repeated attacks by the NPA while talks were going on.
The petition said the rebels were “using acts of terror” to sow fear and panic to overthrow the government.
Duterte has been venting his fury at the Maoists almost on a daily basis and considers them as much of a security threat as a plethora of domestic Islamist militant groups that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
By declaring the groups and individuals terrorists, the government would be able to monitor them closer, track finances and restrict their access to resources, among other things.
The petition included Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, appointed in 2014 as UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, who was listed as a senior member of the Maoist rebel group.
Tauli-Corpuz declined to comment on the petition until she had seen it.
Four former Catholic priests were also named in the case, including Frank Fernandez, whom the government said was an NPA leader in the central Philippines. There was no immediate comment from Fernandez.
The petition included 18 top leaders of the communist party as central committee members, including founder Jose Maria Sison and peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, both based in The Netherlands for three decades.
Sison was a mentor of Duterte when he was at university. They are now bitter rivals, with seemingly no limit on the ferocity of their rebukes of each other.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the Maoist rebellion. Negotiations have been on and off since being brokered by Norway in 1986.
Former congressman Satur Ocampo, who has a pending criminal case for his involvement in the murder of suspected military spies in the communist movements in the 1980s, was also on the list.
Ocampo said he would challenge any “terrorist” label.


US sanctions Chinese military unit for buying Russian jets, missiles

Updated 1 min 44 sec ago
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US sanctions Chinese military unit for buying Russian jets, missiles

  • It was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russia
  • US sanctions are meant to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, cyber attacks, interference in the 2016 elections, and other malign activities

WASHINGTON: The United States expanded its sanctions war against Russia to China on Thursday, announcing punitive measures against a Chinese military organization for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles.
Stepping up pressure on Moscow over its “malign activities,” the US State Department said it was placing financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, and its top administrator, for its recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
Officials said it was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russia, and signaled the Trump administration’s will to risk relations with other countries in its campaign against Moscow.
They also said that the US could consider similar action against other countries taking delivery of Russian fighter jets and missiles. US ally Turkey is currently talking with Moscow about an S400 deal.
“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia,” a senior administration official told journalists, insisting on anonymity.
“CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country. They are aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities.”
CAATSA, or the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was passed in 2017 as a tool that gives the Trump administration more ways to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.
With regard to Russia, CAATSA arises from the country’s “aggression in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, cyber intrusions and attacks, interference in the 2016 elections, and other malign activities,” the State Department said.
The legislation allows the government to take action against those companies and individuals who have been placed on the CAATSA blacklist.
EDD and its director Li Shangfu became targets after taking delivery over the past year of the jets and missiles from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export entity already on the CAATSA blacklist for its support of the Assad regime in Syria.

More Russian entities added to blacklist
At the same time, the State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist under the CAATSA rules.
All of them — defense related firms, officers of the GRU military intelligence agency, and people associated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency disinformation group — have been on previous US sanctions lists and 28 of them have already been indicted by Russia election meddling investigator Robert Mueller.
“We will continue to vigorously implement CAATSA and urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide,” the State Department said.
The sanctions freeze any of EDD’s and Li’s assets in US jurisdictions.
They also restrict EDD’s access to global financial markets by blocking foreign exchange transactions under US jurisdiction or any transactions in the US financial system.
The senior official stressed that CAATSA is not going to be implemented across the board, but that the US was choosing Russia’s sale of “bigger ticket items” of “new, fancy, qualitatively significant stuff” that could have a “security impact” on the United States.
“The CAATSA was not intended to take down the economy of third party countries. It’s intended to impose appropriate pressures on Russia in response to Russian malign acts,” the official said.
The official declined to answer if the US would take similar action if Russia delivers S400 missiles to other countries such as Turkey, which is in talks to buy them.
However, he said, “You can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be.”
“We have made it very clear to them that these –- that systems like the S-400 are a system of key concern with potential CAATSA implications.”