Government secures first conviction for terrorism financing
MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Justice (DOJ) has secured its first conviction for violation of the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10168).
In a statement Monday, the DOJ said the Iligan City Regional Trial Court had convicted Angeline Magdua for 55 counts of violating that law as an accessory to the crime of terrorist financing.
Magdua was one of the two cashiers of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR), a church-based national organization of priests and lay persons.
“Despite conviction after 11 years after enactment of the law, this landmark decision will serve as the foundation and will pave the way for future prosecutions under this law,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.
“Terrorism only leads to more violence and suffering, and we must break this cycle and works toward peace,” he added.
According to frontlinedefenders.org, RMP “empowers farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples and educates them on their rights.”
But government prosecutors argued that RMP-NMR receives donations from unsuspecting foreign organizations and distributes the funds to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CCP-NPA_.
“Acting upon orders of her co-accused, Magdua was responsible for distributing funds to the members of the CPP-NPA,” Remulla said, adding that her conviction is a “clear message to those who think they can get away with supporting terrorism.”
According to Remulla, the DOJ started to focus on the prosecution of 15 other accused with the same violation.
The case stemmed from an investigation by the Anti-Money Laundering Council on the bank accounts of RMP-Northern Mindanao on the basis of the sworn statements of two former NPA members.
One of the witnesses, according to the DOJ, was a member of the NPA, later becoming a finance officer of various CPP-NPA nongovernmental organization fronts, including the RMP.
RMP, which was established in 1969 as a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors, has previously denounced being red-tagged by government officials and security forces.