Makabayan bloc slams terror law charges vs 34 activists

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Makabayan bloc slams terror law charges vs 34 activists
This photo shows an activist in front of the Cabanatuan Hall of Justice in Nueva Ecija protesting the indictment for terrorism charges of 34 activists.
Twitter / League of Filipino Students

MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc condemned the military's decision to file terrorism charges against Bayan Muna Partylist Secretary General Nathanael Santiago and 33 other activists and human rights workers in Nueva Ecija.

In a joint-statement by Rep. France Castro (ACT-Teachers), Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Partylist) and Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Partylist), they denounced the charges filed against the activists at the Nueva Ecija Office of the Provincial Prosecutor as "baseless" and said that they were only meant to “silence critics” of the administration. 

“Their malicious intent is clear - to use these fabricated terrorism and other serious charges as grounds for a wholesale attack on the Makabayan coalition and  the progressive parties under its umbrella in order to intimidate, imprison, and silence our parties, elected representatives, leaders, and members and prevent us from giving voice to the poor and oppressed majority and articulating dissent,” the Makabayan bloc’s statement read.

“We demand that the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Nueva Ecija uphold the rights of the accused to a fair and impartial investigation and outrightly dismiss the trumped-up charges. We also call on the Marcos administration to stop using the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 as a tool for political persecution and harassment of critics and dissenters,” it added. 

The complaint was filed by soldiers from the 84th Infantry Battalion (IB), 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army stationed in Caranglan, Nueva Ecija. They assert that the accused individuals were implicated in an alleged military engagement between the 84th IB soldiers and a faction identified as "Kilusang Larangan Gerilya-Sierra Madre" (KLGSM) in October 2023.

The following raps has been filed by the soliders against the respondents:

  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Violation of Section 4 (a) and (d) of the Republic Act. (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020
  • Violation of Section 4 ( c ) and Section 5 of the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity (IHL)

Aside from Santiago, among the other accused who filed their counter-affidavits on Friday were:

  • Rosario Brenda Gonzales, a development worker
  • Anselma San Gabriel, a laywoman 
  • Servillano Luna Jr., former secretary-general of Anakpawis

According to a separate statement of the Makabayan bloc, the prosecutor on Jan. 19, 2024 has recommended the filing of the Anti-Terror Law charges against the activists.

However, the charges related to crimes against international humanitarian law, as well as the attempted murder and murder complaints, were dismissed due to the complainants' inability tto prove conspiracy and establish the activists' alleged actions as breaches of IHL.

The prosecutor has also allowed the activists to file their respective counter-affidavits on Friday, May 3, 2024.


The activists who were the respondents of the case said that they were “surprised” at the indictment by the Nueva Ecija prosecutor as they did not receive a subpoena prior to the indictment.

In separate affidavits, the activists also denied their involvement in the alleged armed encounter by the military and the KLGSM.

“Malaking sorpresa sa akin ang naturang resolusyon dahil kailanman wala akong natanggap na anumang subpoena para sa anumang pagdinig at para hingan ako ng aking kontra- salaysay mula sa sinumang piskal o kagawad ng Office of the Provincial Prosecutor ng Nueva Ecija kaugnay ng nabanggit na mga reklamo na isinama ang pangalan ko,” Santiago’s counter-affidavit read. 

(I was greatly surprised by the said resolution because I have never received any subpoena for any hearing or to provide my counter-affidavit from any prosecutor or official of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Nueva Ecija regarding the mentioned complaints that included my name.)

“Napakalaking kasinungalingan, gawa-gawa lamang ang istorya, at hindi totoong nangyari na ako ay kasama o kabahagi sa iniulat ng militar na armadong engkwentro sa pagitan ng AFP at NPA noong Oktubre 8, 2023 sa Laur, Nueva Ecija at sa paratang ng paglabag ng murder, attempted murder at paglaban sa batas laban sa pasabog at batas laban sa terorismo," it added.

(It is a big lie, a made-up story, and it is not true that I was involved or took part in the reported military armed encounter between the AFP and NPA on Oct. 8, 2023, in Laur, Nueva Ecija, and in the accusation of violating murder, attempted murder, and laws against explosives and terrorism.)

In a separate counter-affidavit filed by Gonzales, it was noted that the complainants had stated the wrong address in the initial complaint, which resulted in the failure to file the counter-affidavit in a timely manner.

Gonzales said that the complainants indicated that she lived in Aurora, far from her legitimate residence in Calabarzon.

She also said that the complaint showed that she lives with an activist who has been reported missing since September 2023. 

“At the outset, I must put on record that I am a development worker. I am not hiding in the mountains of the Sierra Madre and I was not, in any way, involved in the alleged encounter between the alleged members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and the Complainants on October 8, 2023 in San Fernando, Laur, Nueva Ecija. As a matter of fact, I have never been to Laur, Nueva Ecija. I strongly deny the allegation that I am a member of the NPA,” Gonzales’ counter-affidavit read. 

Aside from the Makabayan bloc, other progressive groups also condemned the filing of charges and called for the abolition of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law. 

RELATED:  Mga grupo kinastigo 'terror law' charge vs Anakpawis official

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