NINETEEN individuals form the first cluster of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s list of terrorists pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Law for which the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) was created.
In a resolution signed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, in his capacity as ATC Vice-Chairman, the council designated Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria “Joma” Sison and top National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultants Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva, Rafael Baylosis, Wilma Tiamzon, and Benito Tiamzon as terrorists.
The same resolution also authorized the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze their assets, as a manhunt begins for the persons in the list.
Interestingly, only Ladlad and Silva are under government custody. Baylosis was set free after being cleared in 2019 of charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, while Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are nowhere to be found since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered for their arrest in view of the collapse of the peace talks.
Sison is exiled in the Netherlands.
“Based on verified and validated information, the ATC found probable cause, as defined in the anti-terror act, warranting the designation of the following central committee members of the CPP for violations of Sections 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the ATA,” the resolution said, which was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea as the council chairperson.
Over 40 petitions questioning and challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law have been filed at the high tribunal.
Interestingly, the ATC’s power of designating groups or persons on their own determination with no notifications of hearings is among the salient points for which the petitions were made.
The designated people are accused of planning, conspiracy, proposal, and inciting to commit terrorism, as well as membership in a terror group.
The only effect of designation would be the freezing of assets, the government has maintained. Lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) also repeated this to the Supreme Court during oral arguments.
Under Section 36 of the law, the AMLC is authorized to immediately “freeze without delay” the “property or funds that are in any way related to financing of terrorism.”
The freeze order of AMLC will be effective for 20 days. Before the period lapses, AMLC can seek authority from the Court of Appeals (CA) to extend the freeze order for a period not exceeding 6 months.
The designated people can also go to the CA to challenge the basis of the freeze order.
Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), the designated people can seek to be delisted.
In December 2020, the ATC designated the CPP as a group with AMLC moving to freeze “related accounts.”
The ATC has also designated as terrorists 10 people it believes to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.