Anti-Terror Law’s first hit: Two Aetas from Zambales – group
MANILA, Philippine — Two Aetas from Zambales are the first persons known to be charged under the Republic Act 11479 or Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 for allegedly engaging in a shooting spree that killed a soldier last August.
This was revealed in a manifestation by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), counsel for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) which filed a petition against the new anti-terror law before the Supreme Court.
According to NUPL, Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos were arrested while evacuating with their families from their ancestral land in Sitio Lumibao, Barangay Buhawen, San Marcelino, Zambales, due to continuous military operations. The group said the two are charged before the Olongapo Regional Trial Court and detained at the Olongapo City Jail.
NUPL also said that aside from violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Gurung and Ramos are also facing cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
In its manifestation submitted to the high court, NUPL attached and cited the charge sheet signed by Associate Provincial Prosecutor Ritchie John Distor Bolaño that states the two are specifically charged for violating Section 4 (a) of the anti-terror law which punishes a person who “engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life.”
NUPL said the prosecutor noted that the acts of Gurung and Ramos have also caused “intimidation to the general public, spreading a message of fear and seriously undermining public safety.”
NUPL, through its president, Atty. Edre Olalia, said the two accused and their families were accosted by elements of the 73rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army; planted firearms, and explosives on them, and falsely accused Gurung and Ramos of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Some of the victims were tortured, fed with human feces, and were later charged with violation of Section 4(a) of RA 11479, among other crimes,” NUPL’s manifestation reads.
Olalia said, “the available facts and circumstances we received so far from our colleagues in NUPL-Central Luzon indicate that the charges were a way of reprisal against unarmed civilians (indigenous people) for the death of a soldier in an alleged encounter with the NPAs in the area.”
“So it proves that almost anything can be contorted to fit the broad and vague definition of terrorism under the Anti-Terror Act,” he added.
The group also mentioned the intensified red-tagging of individuals and advocacy groups as well as the admission made by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade that members of the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc are under surveillance for the simple reason that there is already the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“These baseless, blatant, and damaging vilification and red-tagging by those who are key components of the Anti-Terrorism Council have escalated the petitioners well-founded fear that RA11479 and its unbridled power of designation will be used arbitrarily without recognition of the principles of due process, the presumption of innocence and basic rules of evidence,” NUPL said.
The high court is set to conduct a preliminary conference on Nov. 26 to discuss the issues that will be included in the oral argument on the numerous petitions against the new anti-terror law.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.