DOJ junks kidnap raps vs Anakbayan, Elago in case of 'missing' activist

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
DOJ junks kidnap raps vs Anakbayan, Elago in case of 'missing' activist
This photo shows the Department of Justice office in Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice junked the police’s complaint against activists, including Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list), accused of kidnapping a young activist to join Anakbayan.

In a 12-page resolution made public Monday, Assistant State Prosecutor Noel Antay Jr. dismissed the kidnapping and failure to return a minor, and crimes against international humanitarian law, filed by the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the mother of young activist Alicia Jasper Lucena, for lack of probable cause.

The DOJ said it found “no sufficient ground to continue with the investigation for failure of the complainants to show in their evidence the presence of the elements of the crimes by which they are charging the respondents.”

The prosecution also said there was no evidence that Anakbayan recruits for the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army, an allegation that the military and police continue to tag progressive groups and individuals with.

Named as respondents were Elago, Communist Party of the Philippines founding member Joma Sison, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers member Neri Colmenares, five officers of Ankabayan and three others.

The complaint

The PNP-CIDG and Relissa Lucena said Alicia was recruited by Anakbayan in 2018 and that she became “different... more withdrawn, belligerent and ill-tempered” towards her parents since then.

Alicia left home in March 2019, but would continue to communicate with her parents through online messenger. She would also come home every now and then to leave her laundry.

Police SMSgt Bayron Rana, complainant in the case, said that Alicia was recruited when she was a minor to become a member of Anakbayan and eventually a member of CPP-NPA-NDF.

Prosecution’s resolution

The DOJ said Article 270 of the Revised Penal Code on kidnapping and failure to return a minor states that the offender has deliberately failed to restore the minor to her parents. But the complainants failed to show that the respondents were entrusted with Alicia’s custody and had failed to return her home.

The police also accused the activists of violating Republic Act 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, specifically for recruiting children into an armed force or group and participate actively in hostilities.

The prosecutor said that the complaints failed to prove that Anakbayan is an armed force or that it uses children to participate in hostilities. The group, instead, is a national advocacy organization of the Filipino youth.

“There is also no evidence presented showing that Anakbayan is the recruiting arm of or somehow connected to the CPP-NPA-NDF,” the resolution read.

While the two witnesses in the case said they were rebel returnees, they were members of League of Filipino Students, Makabayan and Gabriela Youth, and not of Anakbayan. Their personal knowledge is limited only to groups where they are members, prosecutors said.

"In fact, their allegation that Anakbayan recruits minors to become members of the CPP-NPA-NDF remains unsupported by any evidence and would not suffice to determine the existence of probable cause," it added.

The prosecution also said that the complainants failed to present any evidence that would connect the respondents with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

SC junks habeas corpus, amparo pleas

In September, the SC also junked the petition for writ of amparo and habeas corpus filed by Alicia’s parents as it held that the young activist’s situation “does not qualify either as an actual or threatened enforced disappearance or extralegal killing.”

The court also held that Alicia was not missing, or being detained and kept against her free will.

It also noted that Alicia s already 18 years old, and in the eyes of the State, she “has earned the right to make independent choices with respect to the places where she wants to stay, as well as to the persons whose company she wants to keep.”

Alicia’s mother was one of the resources speakers, in the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs’s hearings on the supposed disappearance of minors after being recruited by left-leaning groups in 2019.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, chair of the Senate panel, said the parents appeared in the Senate “voluntarily” and have grown desperate because their pleas have not been heard by the youth organization.”

AJ in a video posted by Film Weekly said that she was not missing and was not kidnapped. She also said that she left their home and voluntarily joined Anakbayan.

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