Colmenares, others face raps for recruiting minors

Published August 21, 2019, 11:54 AM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Jeffrey Damicog

Former and current party-list legislators have been summoned by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to face the criminal complaints filed against them for allegedly recruiting minors into leftist groups.

(L-R) Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares,, and former Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin (MB file photos / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
(L-R) Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, and former Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin (MB file photos / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Those who have been issued subpoenas by the DOJ are former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, current Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, and former Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.

Also issued subpoenas are Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan secretary general Eistein Recedes, Anakbayan spokesman Alex Danday, Bianca Gacos, Charie Del Rosario, and Jayroven Villafuerte Balais.

Assistant State Prosecutor Christine Perolino who issued the subpoenas “commanded” all nine respondents to appear at the DOJ on August 27.

The respondents were also told by Perolino to “submit counter affidavit/s to be sworn before me, and other supporting documents, if any, in your defense.”

“You are hereby WARNED that failure on your part to comply with this SUBPOENA shall be considered as your waiver to present your evidence in this preliminary investigation and the same shall be considered submitted for disposition,” warned Perolino.

Perolino is set to start on August 27 the preliminary investigation on the complaint filed last August 1 by Lucena Relissa and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Group (PNP-CIDG) against the respondents.

In its complaint, the PNP-CIDG accused the respondents of violating Republic Act 10364 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003), RA 11188 (Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict and Providing Penalties for Violations thereof), RA 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act), RA 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity), and kidnapping in violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC),

Lucena, who recently testified before the Senate on minors being recruited by leftist groups, complained that her daughter Alicia Jasper was only a minor when she was recruited by Anakbayan after getting enrolled at the Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila in July 2018.

“She (Alicia) left her home several times without informing her mother where she will be going and will just suddenly appear at home after several days,” read the PNP-CIDG referral letter to the DOJ, citing that her mother observed adverse changes in her daughter’s attitude since joining the group and attending protest rallies.

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“On March 10, 2019 she again left their home, leaving a letter to her mother containing strong messages against her mother and her policy at home especially her mother’s contradiction to her desires,” it added.

After reporting to the police blotter about her daughter running away, Lucena managed to convince her daughter to meet in Manila where Alicia was accompanied by Anakbayan’s Gacos, Del Rosario, and Balais.

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During the meeting, Lucena recounted that Del Rosario even tried recruiting her to join the women’s rights group Gabriela.

The PNP-CIDG also submitted to the DOJ the sworn statement of rebel returnee Ma. Rebecca Pecayo who recounted that she was a minor when she was recruited by a certain Bob to join the League of Filipino Students while she was a student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

“On the final week of September 2017, Rebecca was convinced to finally become a full pledged member of CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) together with other student members of the LFS wherein they were able to reach the main body of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Bukidnon. They underwent ‘Revolutionary Integration’ and taught to handle M1 Garand and M16 rifles,” the PNP-CIDG said.

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