Año says no more revival of anti-subversion law, but…

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will no longer push for the revival of the repealed Anti-Subversion Law, Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday, September 19.

“I think ‘wag na tayo doon sa restoration of Anti-Subversion Law. Gasgas na ‘yan eh (I think we should drop the Anti-Subversion Law. It's too old),” Año said in Rappler Talk interview.

In the same breath, however, he said he wants another law that would essentially do the same: outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“We can make another law, an enactment to outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its created front organizations,” he added.

What’s the difference? According to Año, the new law should spell out that activism is not misconstrued as membership of the CPP and its armed wing the New People’s Army.

“Basically it will not cover activism, it will not cover oppositionist and other legal organizations that are criticizing the government, but only the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Año explained.

Año’s new proposal also does not include recruitment or various forms of support for CPP as grounds for punishment, which the DILG earlier pushed for. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Reviving the anti-subversion law)

A former military chief and veteran intelligence officer, Año spent most of his years fighting communist insurgents and arresting their top leaders. He played a key role in the arrest of CPP leader Benito Tiamzon in 2014. Año was also credited for the operation against Mindanao's top communist guerrilla Leonardo Pitao, alias Kumander Parago, who was killed in June 2015. (READ: Rebel hunter Año is new AFP chief)

Año does not believe that the peace process has worked ever since the Anti-Subversion Law was repealed 3 decades ago.

Abuse warned: Lawyers and human rights activists have said that the proposal to outlaw membership in the CPP is already dangerous since the Duterte administration has been red-tagging individuals and organizations with impunity. (READ: Creating a Marcos? Reviving the anti-subversion law under Duterte)

Among groups that have been accused of keeping links with the CPP is the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and the National Union of People’s Lawyers or NUPL.

"This draconian measure, together with a menu of other repressive laws and policies, and on top of vicious red-tagging of individuals and groups, is essentially antidemocratic even if packaged for purportedly salutary ends," NUPL president Edre Olalia earlier said in a statement. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.