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Philippine officials designate 11 insurgents ‘terrorists’

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) – The Philippine government has designated a former peace negotiator and five other suspected communist rebel leaders as “terrorists” in a move that allowed the freezing of their financial assets, which officials said could be used to finance attacks.

The Anti-Terrorism Council separately designated as terrorists five commanders of the Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent militant group in the country’s south. They have been linked to the Islamic State group in an announcement made public on Wednesday.

Long-running communist and insurgencies are among key security problems President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr stands to inherit when he takes office on June 30. Although considerably weakened by decades of offensives, infighting and factionalism, the communist and insurgents remain national security threats.

The six rebel leaders accused of membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army and related organisations were led by Luis Jalandoni, a former Roman Catholic priest who joined the communist rebellion, one of the longest-raging in Asia.

He gained national prominence as the chief rebel negotiator for decades in peace talks with the Philippine government brokered by Norway until he retired years ago. His whereabouts are unknown.

The Anti-Terrorism Council said Jalandoni and the five other high-ranking communist rebels were designated terrorists under Philippine law due to their alleged involvement in the rebel movement and past and future acts of terrorism. It did not elaborate or cite any evidence.

The rebels condemned the government’s terrorist labelling of the 87-year-old Jalando and the others as a “gross perversion of the truth”.