DOJ summons left-leaning reps over trafficking, child abuse charges
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has summoned several leaders and officers of left-leaning groups over charges of trafficking, and child abuse after a female student was reported missing following her alleged recruitment in Anakbayan.
Assistant State Prosecutor Christine Perolino issued a subpoena to Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo, Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, and Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday, ordering them to appear at preliminary investigation scheduled for August 27, September 10, and September 24.
Former Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin was also included among those who were summoned. However, the subpoena stated that he serves as chair of Anakbayan, which is a different group from Akbayan.
Further, Charie Del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, and Einstein Recedes were also summoned by the justice department.
“You are hereby warned that failure on your part to comply with this subpoena shall be considered as your waiver to present your defense in this preliminary investigation and the same shall be considered submitted for disposition,” read the subpoena.
The charges were in relation to the case of 18-year-old senior high school student Alicia Lucena who was reported missing after being allegedly recruited by Anakbayan.
Her mother, Relissa Lucena, served as the complainant and filed the charges with the assistance of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – Major Crimes Investigation Unit.
But Alicia had earlier denied that she was kidnapped by the youth group Anakbayan, saying that she left home because her parents treated her badly for joining the organization.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia questioned the inclusion of Colmenares in the charges, saying it was “totally absurd.”
“Not all scripts of comical persons in authority are funny. 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,” Olalia said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
Further, Olalia said: “It is indubitably part of the legal blitzkrieg and assault against legitimate dissent and those who push back and stand their ground.”
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