SC upholds activist’s choices, junks parents’ plea
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has ruled that a 19-year-old activist was old enough to make her own choices, including the persons whose company she wanted to keep, and dismissed a petition filed by the woman’s parents to take custody of her.
In a decision written by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta made public on Friday, the court said there was no basis for the issuance of the writs of amparo and habeas corpus filed by the parents of Alicia Jasper “AJ” Lucena against the militant youth group Anakbayan.
Assisted by task force
The court said it did not appear that Lucena had been deprived of her liberty or that her parents Francis and Relissa Lucena had been excluded from their rightful custody of her.
Lucena’s parents, assisted by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the government’s counter-insurgency body, filed the petition on May 11.
Age of majority
Named respondents were Anakbayan officers Jayroven Balais, Chary delos Reyes and Bianca Gasos, as well as Anakbayan national chair Alex Danday, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, and lawyer Maria Kristina Conti.
“Since the petitioners’ daughter has already attained the age of majority, which is 18 years old, [Lucena], in the eyes of the state, has earned the right to make independent choices with respect to the places where she wants to stay, as well as to the persons whose company she wants to keep,” the court ruled.
The high tribunal said Lucena’s parents “failed to make a case” that she was being detained or was being kept by Anakbayan against her will.
A full copy of the decision, which was promulgated last Tuesday, has yet to be released.
The court’s public information office said in a statement on Friday that the justices had also noted that the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo was improper and the request for a writ of habeas corpus lacked merit.
The justices said the remedy of amparo is presently confined merely to cases of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances and to such threats, according to the statement.
It said Lucena’s situation did not qualify either as an actual or a threatened enforced disappearance or extralegal killing. It added that Lucena was not missing and her whereabouts were known as she was staying with Anakbayan and its officers.
Regarding the writ of habeas corpus, the justices said the Rules of Court envisioned it as a remedy to illegal confinement or detention where a person was deprived of liberty, or where it is withheld from the person entitled to rightful custody of someone.
The couple said their daughter was recruited by Anakbayan when she was just 17, and was “radicalized and indoctrinated,” leading to her disappearance.
‘Infiltration’ of schools
The petition came amid a military and police campaign against alleged communist rebel “infiltration” of schools and communities to recruit youth and students for the armed struggle against the government.
Speaking at a press conference and on her social media account last year, Lucena said she was not missing and that she joined Anakbayan voluntarily.
She had executed an affidavit saying she ran away from home in Ferbruary 2019 and again in the following month because her parents had opposed her joining Anakbayan and grounded her. She turned 18 in July that year.