DOJ summons leftist representatives over student recruitment

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) summoned Anakbayan officials and former and current leftist members of Congress over a kidnapping complaint that rooted from the recruitment of students into activist groups.

The daughter of the private complainant has since come out to say she is a voluntary member of leftist group Anakbayan, and was not abducted as alleged in the complaint.

Assistant State Prosecutor Christine Perolino sent a subpoena to Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo and secretary-general Einstein Recedes, as well as Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago and former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares.

"We condemn these disgusting efforts of exploiting blatant lies to sideline dissent and persecute opposition," said Kabataan in a statement on Tuesday, August 20.

Curiously, the subpoena was also sent to Tom Villarin who is the former representative of Akbayan, and not Anakbayan. Akbayan and Anakbayan come from two factions of the Philippine Left and have had a nasty public feud.

The complaint filed by the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group erroneously named Villarin as Anakbayan representative.

The subpoena was also sent to Anakbayan members Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, and Alex Danday.

The subjects of the subpoena were required to attend hearings at the DOJ on August 27, September 10, and September 24, to submit their counter-affidavits.

The complaint

The complaint is for kidnapping as well as violation of anti-trafficking laws and protection of children, for allegedly abducting students they recruited into their groups.

One of the private complainants is Relissa Lucena, the mother of 18-year-old Alicia Lucena.

After her mother's allegations against the leftist groups, Alicia faced the media to claim that she is not being kidnapped and voluntarily joined Anakbayan. Alicia accused the military of exploiting their family problems to forward its anti-left agenda.

The issue of student recruitment into leftist groups is the subject of congressional hearings, and has prompted the Department of the Interior and Local Government to propose the restoration of the anti-subversion law which previously criminalized communism.

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia said Colmenares' inclusion in the complaint and subpoena proves that there is an ongoing government assault against dissenters of government. (READ: Duterte's war on dissent)

Colmenares is a member of NUPL.

"How in heaven's name could someone like Neri be even remotely involved, connected, or liable for such inane and contrived charges that have been debunked? Totally absurd," said Olalia.

Olalia added, "Make no mistake about it: they are lining and rounding up the most voluble and visible people who stand in the way and who fight back against repression and injustice." – Rappler.com 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

image