MANILA — A Philippine court has removed four people, including a U.N. rights rapporteur, from a list of people the government wants declared “terrorists”, citing the lack of a justification for their inclusion.
The justice department in March asked a court to declare 600 alleged communists to be “terrorists”, including the four, after a breakdown in a peace process between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier restarted the peace process with the leftist rebels but called the effort off, accusing the insurgents of demanding too many concessions and of attacking soldiers.
The court said in a 14-page resolution that the government had insufficient grounds to declare as terrorists U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, human rights lawyer Jose Molintas, former lawmaker Satur Ocampo, and rebel leader Rafael Baylosis, who was freed from jail to join peace talks.
The four had separately filed petitions with the court against their inclusion on the list.
Government officials made no immediate comment on the court decision.
A legal assistance group, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), welcomed the court decision saying the list was clumsily drawn up by the military in “a malicious fishing expedition” that included bogus names, repeated entries and people who were dead.
Ocampo and Baylosis are part of the rebels’ negotiating team.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the Maoist rebellion. Negotiations to end the revolt have been on and off since being brokered by Norway in 1986. — Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel