Police wrongly identifies Villarin as Anakbayan Party-list rep
MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has summoned former sectoral lawmaker Neri Colmenares and officers and members of youth groups Kabataan Party-list and Anakbayan over multiple criminal raps filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in connection with the case of a missing activist.
Assistant State Prosecutor Christine Perolino required Colmenares and 8 others to appear during the DOJ’s preliminary investigation on Aug. 27, September 10 and 24 in connection with the trafficking, child abuse and other complaints filed against them by the CIDG.
Named as respondents were Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday, and all other officers and members of the two youth groups.
Tom Villarin was also included, mistakenly referred to as Anakbayan Party-list representative. Villarin was a former representative of Akbayan Party-list, and Anakbayan is not a party-list group.
Also named in the subpoena were Charlie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, Vencer Crisostomo, and Einstein Recedes. Crisostomo is the Anakbayan chairperson while Recedes is Anakbayan secretary general.
On Aug. 1, the PNP-CIDG filed with the DOJ complaints for violations of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; the Act providing for Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict; the Revised Penal Code provision on kidnapping; the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; and the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
Based on the investigation data form, the complainant was Relissa Lucena, who recently testified before a Senate hearing that her daughter, 18-year-old Alicia, was recruited by Anakbayan.
In the complaint, Lucena said her child’s behavior changed after joining Anakbayan as she became a “loner, hard-headed, aggressive and hot headed.” She also allegedly started contradicting her father, joined protest actions and expressed her “burning anger” towards the government.
Lucena said her daughter left their house in March and left a letter containing “strong messages against her mother and her policy at home.” She said she tried to convince her to go home during a meeting a few days later but Alicia refused. She identified Del Rosario, Gacos and Villafuente as Alicia’s companions.
But Alicia surfaced at a press conference at the House of Representatives on Aug. 14, accusing the military and the police of using her family’s problem in advancing their agenda. In a Facebook post, she denied being coerced and said she joined Anakbayan voluntarily.
In a statement, NUPL denounced the inclusion of its chair, Colmenares, also former representative of Bayan Muna party-list, in the raps.
“How in heaven’s name could someone like Neri be even remotely involved, connected or liable for such inane and contrived charges that have been debunked? Totally absurd,” NUPL President Edre Olalia said.
“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. It is indubitably part of the legal blitzkrieg and assault against legitimate dissent and those who push back and stand their ground,” he added.
Olalia said the case against Colmenares is the third “incredible criminal charge” against NUPL lawyers since 2016, citing the dismissed kidnapping case against lawyer Kathy Panguban who assisted the minor survivor in the Sagay massacre case and a pending arson case against an NUPL lawyer-officer in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Villarin took to social media to express his disbelief at being tagged as a member of Anakbayan.
"CIDG filing a case against me as Anakbayan party list rep?!? Where do you get your facts? Saan napunta 'yung billions of intel funds niyo? Kaloka (Where did your billions in intel funds go? Crazy)!" Villarin said in a tweet.