MANILA, Philippines – At least six alleged communist rebels will face murder and terrorism charges over the death of a 9-year-old child and the injury of a soldier in Batangas last year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Wednesday, January 4.
In a briefer released on Wednesday, the justice department said six alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) have been indicted for murder under the article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, and for alleged violation of section 4 (a) and (d) of the anti-terror law.
The respondents were identified as:
- Isagani Isita a.k.a. (also known as) Yano/Toyang/Sid/Ron/Sikad/Jamir/Arkin/Zhuge
- Junalice Arante-Isita a.k.a. Juna/Irene/Erin/Arya/Fabian
- Mariano Bico a.k.a. Nick/Jim/Adonis/Melay
- Gilbert Orr a.k.a. Nash/Jade/Ar
- A.k.a. Joey/Elon/Edel/Analinda/Jorel/Jonas
- A.k.a. Ching/Marcel/ Allen/Jane/Daniel
The DOJ added that the charges will be filed before a Batangas court.
According to the DOJ, the respondents and members of the Philippine Army assigned at Patrol Base San Marcelino, Delta Company, 59th Infantry Batallion had an encounter in Sitio Amatong, Barangay Ginhawa, Taysan town on July 18, 2022.
In explaining why the respondents have been indicted, the justice department said the alleged communist rebels still committed “unlawful acts” even though the child was not their direct target.
“While it may appear that the murder victim was not the direct target of herein respondents and was just caught in the line of fire when the respondents fired upon the members of the Philippine Army, her death clearly was the result of the unlawful acts perpetrated by the respondents,” the DOJ said.
On the alleged violation of anti-terror law, the DOJ said the respondents’ acts were done to create an “atmosphere of fear.”
“Clearly, respondents’ use of high-powered firearms seriously endangered the lives of the members of the Philippine Army and consummated in injury and death. Further, the said weapons were intended to cause a disproportionate amount of damage or harm of sufficient magnitude.”
Section 4 (a) of the highly contested anti-terror law defines that any person engaged in acts that caused death or serious injury against a person is considered to have committed terrorism. Meanwhile, section 4 (d) states a person has committed terrorism if he/she develops, manufactures, or uses weapons, explosives, or the likes of biological or chemical weapons.
Even before the signing of the law, various groups have sounded alarm over the “broad and vague” definition of terrorism under the law.
This was not the first time a charge has been filed based on the anti-terror law. In 2021, an Olongapo court junked the first known anti-terror law case against two Aetas – Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos – saying it was a case of mistaken identity.
The government had accused Gurung and Ramos of being NPA members, adding that they shot at and killed a soldier. The two Aetas were also charged under section 4 of the anti-terror law. – Rappler.com