DOJ junks kidnapping, other charges vs. rights lawyer, youth leaders

Sarah Elago
(BULATLAT FILE PHOTO) Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)
“Another victory for the youth ��� a clear manifestation of fighting for rights and injustices of the Filipino people is not unlawful.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Citing lack of evidence, the Department of Justice dismissed the kidnapping, failure to return a minor and international humanitarian law violation filed against former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and youth leaders.

Based on the 12-page resolution dated Oct. 15, the case was dismissed due to “lack of probable cause” and “no sufficient grounds.”

In a statement, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago welcomed the dismissal of the charges filed by Relissa Lucena and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. Besides Elago and Colmenares, Anakbayan’s Alex Danday and Al Omaga were also among the respondents.

The DOJ prosecutors said that the complainants “failed to show that the respondents were entrusted with the custody of Alicia Lucena and that they deliberately failed to restore/return her to her home.” It added that Alicia, daughter of the complainant, returns to their home even if she has joined Anakbayan.

There is also no crime committed under the IHL as the complainants “failed to prove that Anakbayan is an armed force or that the members thereof used children to participate in hostilities,” the prosecutors said. It further said that Lucena failed to present any evidence that would prove that Anakbayan is indeed a recruitment arm or even connected to the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“As it appears in the evidence presented, Anakbayan is just a comprehensive national mass organization of the Filipino youth that is advocating for jobs, land reform, education, rights and justice,” the decision read.

Elago said that the dismissal of the case proves that the allegations against them by the National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) are not true.

Elago said that these trumped-up cases filed by government agencies like the NTF-ELCAC “have once again proved to be inutile and nothing more than empty ramblings of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

“They prove that the people tasked with keeping law and order know nothing about it and serve only to disrupt it to target those who exercise their democratic rights,” she said.

Vinz Simon, secretary general of Anakbayan also said that this only exposed the government’s “deep-rooted rampant launching of anti-people policies promoting militarization and violence.”

“Another victory for the youth — a clear manifestation of fighting for rights and injustices of the Filipino people is not unlawful,” Simon said in a statement.

Edre Olalia, national president of the NUPL, said of the decision, “It gives some sliver of hope that sooner or later, we will be vindicated by people in government who remain professional, evenhanded and fair, most especially in the light of indubitable facts and a no-nonsense application of the law.”

Lucena is the mother of activist Alicia Jasper who claimed that her daughter was kidnapped by Anakbayan. Last September, the Supreme Court also junked the petition for writs of amparo and habeas corpus filed by Lucena against Elago and other progressive youth groups. ()

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