Guevarra: No need to criminalize subversion

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said there was no need restoring the law making subversion a criminal offense in a bid to stop the alleged indoctrination of hundreds of youths annually by communist rebels.

Guevarra instead suggested that the government strengthen Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

The DOJ chief issued the statement in response to the proposal of Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) making subversion a crime again.

“With all due respect to Sec. Año, mere membership in the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) is not a crime unless overt criminal acts are committed. Amending and giving more teeth to the Human Security Act will suffice, in my opinion,” Guevarra said.

Just the other day, Año said the government should consider restoring the law making subversion a criminal offense following reports that 500 to 1,000 youths are indocrinated annually by communist rebels.

Año issued the statement amid concerns raised by parents about their children who have gone missing reportedly after being recruited by left-leaning organizations. He said youth group Anakbayan is also reportedly recruiting students to join a rebellion against the government.

He told that RA 9372 has not been used against terrorism because it punished even honest mistakes of law enforcers with stiff fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.

The anti-subversion law or RA 1700 was passed in June 1957 during the presidency of Carlos P. Garcia. The law outlawed the Hukbalahap movement and the communist party for aiming to set up a totalitarian regime in the Philippines and placing the country under a foreign power.

During martial law, RA 1700 was expanded through Presidential Decree 885 in 1976 and PD 1835 in 1981. The decrees made it a subversive criminal act to be affiliated with a group, attend a meeting or take part in any activity meant to overthrow the government.

In September 1992, then president Fidel Ramos repealed the law that made subversion a criminal offense, but sedition remained a crime. RA 7636 also legalized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) amid peace talks with the rebels.

Año, however, lamented that the CPP has only been fooling the government as its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) continues to wage a rebellion.

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