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‘I’ll sue you,’ Colmenares warns people behind trafficking raps over ‘missing’ youth

By Visayas Today

Former Bayan Muna congressman Neri Colmenares said he would sue those responsible for filing kidnapping and child abuse charges against him and several others over allegedly “missing” youth activists after the Department of Justice issued subpoenas for the respondents.

While acknowledging he had yet to read the complaint, filed by the Major Crimes Investigation Unit of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Colmenares said it was a “foregone conclusion” that “I’ll file a criminal case” against those responsible for filing the complaint and “witnesses who commit perjury.”

“We will not take this sitting down,” he said.

The complaint alleges violations of: 
• Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 
• RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act
• RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and other Crimes against Humanity

Aside from Colmenares, the named respondents are Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo and secretary general Einstein Recedes; Anakbayan members Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, and Alex Danday; and, ironically, former Akbayan congressman Tom Villarin, who belongs to a party list group that is known to have been at odds with the organizations his co-accused belong to.

The complaint also seeks to include “all other officers” of Kabataan and “all other members” of Anakbayan in the complaint as “John and Jane Does.”

The case stems from the complaints of parents who claimed their children left home and went missing after being recruited into activist groups.

Among the complainants in the case is Relissa Lucena, whose daughter, 18-year old senior high school student and Anakbayan member Alicia, belied the claim that she was missing or had been kidnapped.

Alicia, who stressed it was her choice to join the youth group, said she left home in July after her parents refused to let her out and instead took her to Camp Aguinaldo, military headquarters, in hopes of making her “normal.”

Colmenares, who learned of the subpoena on Tuesday, August 20, while visiting Bacolod, dismissed the complaint.

“It is clear I have committed no crime, much less trafficking. This is a trumped up harassment charge,” he said.

(Images provided by the NUPL show pages from the CIDG complaint)

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which Colmenares chairs, also condemned the “false charge.”

“How in heaven’s name could someone like Neri be even remotely involved, connected or liable for such inane and contrived shotgun charges that have been debunked? Totally absurd,” NUPL president Edre Olalia said in a statement.

Olalia saw a more sinister pattern, linking the complaint to a perceived government crackdown on critics.

“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 said. #

Lawyer: Joma as Plaza Miranda bombing mastermind a ‘canard’

A human rights lawyer described the resurrection of the accusation calling Prof. Jose Maria Sison the brains of the August 21, 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing a canard or an unfounded story.

In a legal opinion, Atty. Edre Olalia said there is no evidence to sustain the accusation that is repeatedly resurrected against Sison.

“(It) is…unmitigated recycled hogwash and simply cannot hold water in any court of law worth its name. It is not only factually baseless but is plainly legally foolish,” Olalia said.

Olalia reacted to a press statement by Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año Wednesday accusing Sison of masterminding the bombing that killed and wounded several Liberal Party members and supporters in 1971.

“Only someone with a vicious mind could hatch and execute a plan like the bombing of Plaza Miranda that caused the death and wounding of several innocent people,” Año said.

Olalia, however, said several investigations on the bombing have either refused to press charges against Sison or have dismissed them for lack of “clear, convincing and categorical legal bases.”

The lawyer cited the March 2, 1994 Manila prosecutors’ resolution dismissing the charge as merely based on “sheer speculations” and for its “lack of sufficient basis.”

The Department of Justice also certified in April 1998 that there are no pending cases against Sison, Olalia reported.

“On its own account and standing alone, the…Resolution handed out more than two decades ago would have written finis to any doubt or accusation on the non-complicity of Mr. Sison in the Plaza Miranda bombing,” he said.

Olalia added that Sison, through the late Justice Romeo Capulong as his lawyer and representative, have submitted the findings of the two investigations to past hearings conducted by the Senate Joint Blue Ribbon and Justice Committees then chaired by Sen. Wigberto Tañada.

“The significance of these above-mentioned two cases against Prof. Sison lies in the fact that they are the only cases which the Philippine government filed against Sison, conclusively proving that since 1971 when the Plaza Miranda bombing took place, until the present date, the Philippine Government has no case against him that would stand in its own courts in terms of evidence,” Capulong’s affidavit to the Senate read.

Olalia added that the Marcos dictatorship could have easily filed charges against Sison for the Plaza Miranda bombing while he was in solitary confinement from 1977 to 1986 but did not do so.

The governments after Marcos also failed to convict Sison for lack of basis even after his passport was cancelled by the Corazon Aquino administration and is forced to stay abroad to this day.

“And if ever one (charge) will be filed anew, it is not only legally prescribed by the statute of limitations but will certainly not prosper as it has no leg to stand on,” Olalia concluded. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)