Ex-SC Justices Said New Law Crafted is In Sync with Beijing as PH Adapts to Communist China Ideology
PDP-Laban out to learn ideology from Communist Party of China
FUJIAN PROVINCE, China — President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party is enlisting the help of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to train its members.
The ruling Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is in talks with CPC for a partnership, including having members of Mr. Duterte’s party learn the ways and ideology of China’s sole governing party.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, president of PDP-Laban, reportedly discussed cooperation for “party building,” among other things, when he met with senior CPC officials in the southeastern province of Fujian in mid-June.
Pimentel and about two dozen members of a Philippine delegation stayed in the port city of Xiamen for four days for a series of forums and meetings.
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Pimentel was reportedly invited by the national CPC leadership to make the visit.
According to Chinese officials, PDP-Laban entered into an agreement with the CPC in December last year for members of the Philippine political party to undergo “policy training” at the CPC provincial party school in Fujian.
China has thousands of party schools at different levels. These are special academic institutions attended by the CPC’s 80 million members where they learn ideology and administration, debate policy directions and undergo leadership training.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a brief news release on June 30 about Pimentel’s visit.
It said Pimentel and his delegation were hosted by the CPC municipal committee in Xiamen.
The Pimentel delegation reportedly met with senior officials led by Pei Jinjiang, a member of the standing committee of the CPC Fujian provincial committee and secretary of the CPC Xiamen municipal committee.
Model for development
The DFA reported that Pimentel praised the booming metropolitan city of Xiamen as a “model for urban development” for Philippine municipalities and cities and that he “extended an invitation to Pei and CPC members to visit the Philippines soon.”
When contacted by reporters for details about the agreement with CPC last December and the reported party training, Pimentel replied: “We enhance our relationship. We use imagination on how to do it. There were no specific activities listed.”
Mr. Duterte, who describes himself as a socialist, has expressed admiration for China since he assumed office last year and deferred pursuing the Philippine territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for infrastructure loans and investments from the Asian superpower.
He is also known to enjoy personal ties with leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). He resumed formal peace negotiations with the rebel group since talks were shelved in the past administration.
The CPP has been waging a guerrilla war through its armed wing, the New People’s Army, over the past 49 years.
PDP-Laban was formed during the growing political opposition against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos a few years before the 1986 People Power Revolution that ended the dictatorship.
PDP was founded in 1982 by Pimentel’s father, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.
It entered into coalition the next year with Laban to become a major opposition party. Laban fielded in 1978 former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., who was then under military arrest, and other opposition leaders in the parliamentary elections.
PDP-Laban was one of the minority political parties under the Aquino administration, but became Mr. Duterte’s political party when he ran in the 2016 presidential election.
Since Mr. Duterte’s election, PDP-Laban has entered into coalition with most other parties to become the dominant political party with an overwhelming majority in Congress.
Mr. Duterte was named party chair, while Pimentel was retained party president.
Chinese official in HK says some protest acts 'terrorist in nature'
HONG KONG • China's Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong said yesterday that some actions during last year's pro-democracy protests were "terrorist in nature" and "troublemakers" colluded with foreign forces, posing "imminent danger" to national security.
Mr Xie Feng, Commissioner of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, made his remarks during a speech on the proposed national security legislation in Hong Kong, in which he sought to reassure foreign investors that they would not be affected.
Mr Xie said the law tackled secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism and would affect only a small number of residents, while for the rest "there was absolutely no need to panic".
"The legislation will alleviate the grave concerns among local and foreign business communities about the violent and terrorist forces," Mr Xie said.
His comments added to a chorus of strengthening government rhetoric against protesters in the Chinese-ruled city, where security officials cited cases involving explosives that were "commonly used in terrorist attacks overseas" as a growing concern.
The proposed legislation, which could also see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in one of the world's biggest financial hubs, saw thousands take to the streets in the city on Sunday to protest against the move.
The proposed law sent Hong Kong's stock market tumbling last week and drew condemnation from Western governments.
Pro-democracy activists fear it would limit rights and freedoms guaranteed under a "one country, two systems" agreement made with Britain on Hong Kong's 1997 return to Chinese rule.
But Mr Xie said the legislation would, in fact, strengthen it, and rights would be preserved.
"Do not be intimidated or misled, exploited by those with ulterior motives, and in particular, do not be a rumour-monger yourself, or join the anti-China forces in stigmatising or demonising the legislation," he said, addressing "law-abiding citizens and foreign internationals who love Hong Kong".
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's security and police chiefs said terrorism was growing in the city.
"Terrorism is growing in the city, and activities which harm national security, such as 'Hong Kong independence', become more rampant," Secretary for Security John Lee said in a statement.
"In just a few months, Hong Kong has changed from one of the safest cities in the world to a city shrouded in the shadow of violence," he said, adding that national security laws were needed to safeguard the city's prosperity and stability.
The police said they arrested more than 180 people on Sunday, when the authorities fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse anti-government protesters as unrest returned to Hong Kong after months of relative calm.
Police Commissioner Chris Tang said there have been 14 cases involving explosives "commonly used in terrorist attacks overseas" and five seizures of firearms and ammunition since protests began last June.
The draft legislation "will help combat the force of 'Hong Kong independence' and restore social order. Police fully support it", Mr Tang said.
Criticising China could be ‘terrorism’ under Philippines’ anti-terror law, warn retired Supreme Court justices
Retired Supreme Court justices Conchita Carpio-Morales and Antonio Carpio and scholar Jay Batongbacal file petition against Duterte’s Anti-Terrorism Act
They say controversial law is so vague it could even be used to censure their criticisms of Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea
Two former Supreme Court justices and a maritime law expert have filed a petition to scrap the Philippines ’ recently passed anti-terrorism law on the grounds they could be labelled “terrorists” for criticising the country’s relationship with China .
The petitioners say government officials have already labelled them “warmongers” and accused them of escalating tensions with Beijing. They say the law is so broad and vague that it could be used to censure them and other government critics rather than the Islamic terrorists it is supposedly aimed at.
Signed into law on July 3 by President Rodrigo Duterte , the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) defines a new crime, “terrorism ”, under which it lists six related offences. The act allows the president, through nine cabinet members sitting on the 10-member Anti-Terrorism Council, to designate anyone a “terrorist”. That person can then be arrested without a warrant and detained for up to 24 days without charge, violating the constitutional right to be freed after three days if no charges are brought. The law includes “inciting to commit” terrorism, which covers speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems and banners. The maximum penalty for terrorism is life imprisonment without parole; for inciting terrorism the maximum sentence is 12 years’ imprisonment.
The law is supposed to counter jihadist groups such as the ones that attacked and seized Marawi City in 2017, but critics fear it will be used to stifle any type of dissent. Some say the law’s repressiveness and disregard of human rights is reminiscent of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
The law has caused an uproar and 16 petitions have been filed against it at the Supreme Court.
The latest was filed by nine petitioners, led by the retired Supreme Court justices Conchita Carpio-Morales and Antonio Carpio and the maritime law scholar Jay Batongbacal. Carpio-Morales said she could be accused of “terrorist acts” listed in the law such as “extensive interference” intended to “destabilise” what the law calls “fundamental political structures”.
She said last year she, together with former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, had filed a complaint against Chinese President
at the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding China’s destruction of marine areas within Philippine waters. The ICC later rejected the complaint.
She said under the terror law she could be charged with “severely damaging the diplomatic infrastructure between the Philippines and China”.
She added that in 2017, when she was Ombudsman, she had criticised Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs”. Infuriated, Duterte had told her to “shut her mouth” and called her a “spokesman of the criminals”.
Antonio Carpio said he could be charged with “inciting to commit terrorism” because of his “impassioned activism” in fighting for Philippine territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea, the term used in the Philippines to refer to the eastern reaches of the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China.
Carpio said that under the law his stance could be “misconstrued” as an intent “to provoke or influence” the government. He said this could “convey in the mind that, to preserve the West Philippine Sea for the country, the people must withdraw support from the Duterte administration”.
He noted how Duterte had accused him and Carpio-Morales of “escalating tensions” between Manila and Beijing. The president had said the pair would be responsible for any violence that might erupt in Palawan, the large island nearest the Chinese military installations in the South China Sea, Carpio said.
He also recalled how National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon had called him a “warmonger” for his stance on the maritime dispute.
Carpio also said in the petition that Duterte’s son Paolo, a congressman, had posted a Facebook graphic accusing Carpio of being part of a plot to overthrow his father. The congressman later deleted the post.
The third petitioner, professor Jay Batongbacal of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said that because of his criticism of the administration’s handling of the maritime dispute, he too could be labelled a terrorist.
Batongbacal said in the petition he had accused China of using marine scientific research as an excuse to “develop and project maritime power” and said Chinese coronavirus aid was a front “to expand its control in the disputed waters”.
Because of remarks like this, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had accused him of being a “warmonger” too, he said.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr defended the Anti-Terrorism Act, saying it filled a gap in the country’s legislation. “When we fight insurgencies, we have laws for that. When we fight rebellions, we have laws for that. But [terrorism] is an insidious new method of attack against innocent civilians, not soldiers. This is what the Anti-Terrorism Act [is for].
“It’s a very specific act and it’s perfectly done.”