The Department of Justice (DOJ) junked another complaint against Anakbayan members filed by the Philippine National Police and Jovita Antoniano, a parent of an activist.
In a 15-page resolution dated May 28, the DOJ junked the kidnapping and child abuse cases finding no probable cause to charge the group with violations of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 or Republic Act (RA) 9208 and Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
Antoniano claimed that her daughter Trisha, a senior high school student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, went missing after being recruited by Anakbayan.
The DOJ resolution said that the complainant failed to establish that the respondents are in custody of Trisha. There is also no evidence that the respondents were entrusted with the custody of Trisha and that they failed to return her to her parents.
The DOJ resolution also said Trisha is no longer a minor when she left their home.
In the Section 3 of RA 9208, the recruitment, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall also be considered trafficking in persons even if it does not involve threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position, taking advantage of the vulnerability or persons.
Also in the law, a child is defined as a person below 18 years of age or one who is over 18 but is unable to fully take care of or protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.
The police presented alleged rebel returnees to establish that the youth were first recruited as members of activist groups and then later recruited to become members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The panel of prosecutors believed the contrary.
“Certainly, no evidence was presented showing that Anakbayan is the recruiting arm or of somehow connected to the CPP-NPA,” the resolution said.
They said that there is also no evidence to prove that Anakbayan or League of Filipino Students is an armed group or that it recruits minors or children to participate in hostilities or armed struggle.
“Further, we cannot consider joining and participating in rallies and conducting peaceful assemblies as acts of armed struggle,” the resolution said.
In October 2020, the DOJ also dismissed similar charges filed by parents of Anakbayan member Alicia Lucena.
Alicia Lucena’s ordeal
Succeeding to flee her family home seven times, youth activist Alicia Lucena recalled her ordeal after she was abducted by her own parents and state agents by tricking her into getting a COVID-19 test in April this year.
In her Facebook live, youth activist Alicia exposed the traumatic experiences she went through in the months she was forced to stay with her parents and in contact with the state agents.
“Dun ako pinatulog sa 4th floor. Yung 4th floor mukhang solitary confinement talaga. Puti yung lahat ng pader. Yung kama nasa sahig lang. Sobrang kalat. Sobrang dumi. Yung gate naka-padlock. Lahat ng bintana may grills, may railings. Mukha ka talagang nasa kulungan.” Alicia recalled her stay in their house in Pasay City.
[I was made to sleep in the 4th floor. The 4th floor looked like solitary confinement. All the walls were painted white. The bed was on the floor. It was messy. It was dirty. The gate was padlocked. All the windows have grills and railings. It looked like being in jail.]
“Mas masahol pa sa pagtrato sa hayop yung ginagawa nila e,” she said.
[They treated me worse than they would an animal.]
She said she was unable to do a lot of things, such talking to her siblings. She was also allowed to urinate in a litter box.
She said she was made to meet with psychologists.
“Yung mga psych sessions namin, ini-interrogate niya lang ako. Ini-interrogate lang niya ako katulad ng mga ginagawa ng pulis at militar nung dinala ako sa kampo noong 2019.” Alicia recalled, saying she knew that the doctors she met were from the referrals of NTF-ELCAC.
[In our psych sessions, I was just being interrogated. I was interrogated what the police and military did when I was brought to their camp in 2019.]
Alicia’s mother Relissa, member of Hands Off Our Children and League of Parents of the Philippines, said in a Facebook post that Alicia’s escape was once again a case of ‘kidnapping’ by progressive organizations. She even included in her latest post some pictures of the youth activists and labeled them as kidnappers.
The DOJ junked the kidnapping case Relissa filed, accusing Anakbayan of kidnapping Alicia. The case was dismissed as Alicia was in fact not missing and that she was of legal age then and able to decide where she would like to stay.
“Anakbayan considers Alicia’s escape from her captors as a necessary and legitimate action given the abuse she had experienced in her detention. Such necessity and legitimacy is bolstered by court decisions that affirm Alicia’s rights to speech, assembly, and organization,“ Anakbayan said in their press statement in support of Alicia.
“Lalaban at lalaban ako dahil hangga’t hindi napapanagot yung mga may sala, mga abuser, at yung mga hayop na pilit nagpapatahimik, naninindak, nanggigipit, at pumapatay. Lalaban at lalaban ako nang buong puso at may matibay na paninindigan dahil alam ko sa alam ko na kasama ko ang malawak na hanay ng masamang api at mga kasama,” Alicia said as she ended her Facebook live.
[I will continue to fight as long as those who have sinned, the abusers, those who silence, intimidate, kill have not been held accountable. I will continue to fight because I know that I am with the broad ranks of oppressed people and my fellow activists.]