Work with poor leaves activists on ATC list few assets to freeze — kin

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Work with poor leaves activists on ATC list few assets to freeze � kin
Families and lawyers of peace consultants who were designated as terrorists slam the government's latest move.
Screengrab from Kodao Productions stream

MANILA, Philippines — Peace consultants have worked for and with the poor and marginalized, but with the government designating them as terrorists, what little they have may now be subject to a freeze order, their families said.

The Anti-Terrorism Council on Thursday released a resolution designating 19 alleged members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army as terrorists. At least four of those named are peace consultants and three of them are already in jail for charges their families claim are fabricated.

READ: Terrorist designation opens assets of Sison, others to AMLC scrutiny

Following the designation, assets of designated individuals or groups shall be subject to the authority of the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze.

But Sharon Silva, wife of Adelberto Silva, asked: “Whose assets will they be freezing?”

Silva, in a presser on Friday afternoon, explained that she and her husband do not own any private property. “We have not amassed health for decades of working for the poor and marginalized sectors of society,” she added.

Simple lives

Xandra Liza Casambre-Bisenio, daughter of peace consultant Rey Casambre, shared that their family leads simple lives. Her father only receives honoraria from various seminars and speakerships.

“If he wants to give my mother a pack of nuts, he would have to walk instead of taking the tricycle,” Bisenio added in Filipino. She also said that her father could only give others fruits from their backyard, never money.

Fides Lim, wife of Vicente Ladlad, meanwhile said her husband’s only substantial amount of money is from the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board, reparation fees from his suffering as a political prisoner during the martial law.

“Vic is a poor man… Vic uses his compensation for his medical and food support in jail,” Lim added.

Already in jail

Bisenio said the designation of her father, whom she described as a frail and compassionate teacher and activist, is “terroristic.”

She explained:  “A government hell bent and designate change advocates as terrorists instead of going full blast in aiding the people medically and economically amid a raging pandemic is terrorist.”

Her voice breaking, she added: “This is even worse and more monstrous than depriving his family of a husband, a brother and a grandfather.”

Silva meanwhile shared they also fear that the designation may be used to “override or set aside the judicial proceedings that are happening.”

Casambre, Silva and Ladlad are all currently in jail. Illegal possession of firearms charges against peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, who was also designated as terrorist, were junked in 2019.

Lawyer Carlos Montemayor noted that when the four peace consultants were included in the DOJ’s proscription petition in 2018, a slew of complaints followed.

Montemayor said they fear the same will happen again following the designation.

PILC lawyer Krissy Conti said she is confident that the dismissed case against Baylosis cannot be revived or appealed, but she noted that another case against him is already wrapping presentation of prosecution evidence.

“In that case, there is a little bit of chance for prosecution, depending on their ways, add evidence, statements,” Conti said, but she stressed that they will continue to trust in the independence of the Judiciary.

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