“Certainly, no evidence was presented showing that Anakbayan is the recruiting arm of or somehow connected to the CPP-NPA.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed another complaint filed by the police and a parent of an activist against Anakbayan leaders for lack of probable cause.
In a 15-page resolution dated May 28, the DOJ junked the kidnapping and child abuse charges filed by Jovita Antoniano and the Philippine National Police against four youth activists.
Antoniano claimed that her daughter Trisha, a senior high school student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, went missing after being recruited by Anakbayan.
The DOJ resolution said that Trisha is no longer a minor when she left their home. There is no evidence that the respondents were entrusted with the custody of Trisha and that they deliberately failed to return her to her parents. The complainant also failed to show or established that the respondents are in custody of Trisha, the resolution said.
The DOJ also found no probable cause to charge the youth group with violations of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
The police presented alleged rebel returnees “to establish the recruitment process of the CPP-NPA-NDF” [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines] which, according to them, were first recruited as members of progressive groups and then were later recruited to become members of the revolutionary group.
The panel of prosecutors also said that there is also no evidence to prove that Anakbayan or League of Filipino Students is an armed group or that it recruits minors or children to participate in hostilities or armed struggle or to exploit them for armed confrontation or violence.
“Certainly, no evidence was presented showing that Anakbayan is the recruiting arm of or somehow connected to the CPP-NPA,” they added.
“Further, we cannot consider joining and participating in rallies and conducting peaceful assemblies as acts of armed struggle,” the resolution added.
Jeann Miranda, Anakbayan’s national spokesperson, said that this victory disproves the Duterte government’s “red-tagging, terror-tagging, and accusations of ‘brainwashing.’”
“The court decision also affirms the legality of the youth organization’s campaigns and advocacies. Despite Duterte’s fascist terror and the pandemic, Anakbayan has continued the struggle to advance the people’s interests,” Miranda said.
Prior to this latest dismissal, the DOJ also dismissed charges filed by parents of Anakbayan member Alicia Lucena in October 2020.
Read: ‘I don’t feel safe here’ | For the 7th time, youth activist Alicia leaves home
There were also two more complaints of the same nature that were also dismissed by the DOJ – one on Oct. 30, 2020 for insufficiency of evidence and another on Feb. 10, 2021 for lack of probable cause. These complaints were filed separately by two parents alleging that their children, who are members of Anakbayan, were missing.
Other cases vs activists also junked
Meanwhile in General Santos City, another case filed against activist couple Edgar and Regina Patulombon was also dismissed after court granted the demurrer to evidence.
The two were arrested in July 2015 in sitio Lanton, barangay Apopong, General Santos City and charged with violation of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
In an order signed and released on July 22, 2021, Judge Dennis Velasco of General Santos City RTC Branch 23 said that the authorities did not inform the couple of their rights when they were subjected to custodial investigation.
“These are the so-called ‘Miranda rights’ so oftenly disregarded by our men in uniform. Infractions thereof render inadmissible the extrajudicial confession or admission made during the custodial investigation,” Velasco said.
“Concededly, the accused was not informed of his right to remain silent and to have his own counsel by the investigating policemen during the custodial investigation. Neither did he execute a written waiver of these rights in accordance with the constitutional prescriptions,” he added.
Also last week, the trumped-up charges against United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastor was also junked by the court.
In a statement, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Edre Olalia welcomed the recent dismissal of cases against activists, calling it as a legal push back.
“We are so glad and relieved that this legal pushback is on a roll and that our courts are stepping up the plate to assert judicial independence against excesses, shortcuts, abuses and even incompetence of our law enforcement agencies in the dubious legal assault on activism,” Olalia said. (RVO)