'Activism not a crime': Kabataan rebukes NTF-ELCAC, OSG disqualification case

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2021 12:08 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2021 01:02 PM

Kabataan partylist led by Rep. Sarah Elago filed on Sept. 20, 2021 their group's answer to NTF-ELCAC's petition before Comelec seeking to cancel their registration. The NTF-ELCAC's petition was signed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, whose office prepared the petition. Sarah Elago and ABS-CBN News/File
Kabataan partylist led by Rep. Sarah Elago filed on Sept. 20, 2021 their group's answer to NTF-ELCAC's petition before Comelec seeking to cancel their registration. The NTF-ELCAC's petition was signed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, whose office prepared the petition. Sarah Elago and ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Kabataan Party-list on Monday rebuked allegations contained in the cancellation petition filed against them by the government's anti-insurgency task force, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier this year. 

The sectoral youth organization called the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict's (NTF-ELCAC) petition "plain and brazen red tagging" and an "illegal act" of silencing opposition to the government. 

In its 33-page petition obtained by ABS-CBN News, Kabataan cited numerous defects in NTF-ELCAC's petition, among them its alleged lack of legal standing to initiate the case in the first place. 

Kabataan said only political parties, party-list organizations, candidates, and registered voters can sue them because of their direct stake in the party-list system. 

According to them, NTF-ELCAC failed to show "direct injury."

"NTF-ELCAC is a mere task force that does not even posses a juridical entity of its own... At most, NTF-ELCAC's interest is a generalized grievance shakily standing on fanciful speculations and fabricated evidence," Kabataan said. 

Kabataan also argued NTF-ELCAC is not a "real party interest" and has no authority to pursue the suit, based on limitations of its mandate set by the executive order that created it. 

"Not being a real party in the interest, petitioner NTF-ELCAC should also not be allowed to commence the suit."

"The power to sue and be sued not being expressly included in its powers, NTF-ELCAC has no capacity to sue for the cancellation of respondent's registration with the commission," it added.

'SEXIST'

Kabataan also lambasted NTF-ELCAC and OSG for citing readings on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) as "indoctrination" material promoting "communist principles and doctrines."

The OSG-prepared NTF-ELCAC petition states that "Kabataan party-list recruits students and youth leaders and then indoctrinates them with thinly veiled communist principles and doctrines... with readings like BAKAPA, ARAK, and SOGIE."

The NTF-ELCAC petition was signed by Solicitor General Jose Calida and 12 other state solicitors. 

But Kabataan called this remark "sexist" and "discriminatory."

"Respondent takes strong exception to the sexist and discriminating remark that SOGIE is a form of indoctrination and implying it is to be wrong, illegal, or related to communism. For the education of Solicitor General Jose Calida and other signing state solicitors... discussing SOGIE is not illegal."

NOT LINKED TO CPP-NPA

Kabataan also denied it is affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People's Army (NPA), contrary to NTF-ELCAC's claims that it serves as "open gates for the recruitment of youths" to the insurgency.

"Respondent categorically states it has never been engaged in the recruitment of anyone for and in behalf of the CPP-NPA... It does not advocate rebellion or taking of arms against the government… This is a clear case of political harassment & reprisal for its activism," Kabataan said. 

Kabataan added "activism is not a crime."

Citing a Supreme Court ruling, Kabataan said Comelec should order NTF-ELCAC to pay them damages and the cost of legal fees they incurred.

"The suit filed by NTF-ELCAC is groundless, baseless, and a pure case of political harassment... [Comelec should] order petitioner to pay the cost of suit/and or damages... and the same be awarded to the medical frontliners of the Philippine General Hospital," Kabataan said in its prayer. 

Aside from Kabataan, NTF-ELCAC is also asking Comelec to cancel the registration of another progressive partylist Gabriela. 

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