Mindanao Times

SC orders groups to answer suit filed by recruit's parents


MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has required members of militant groups to answer the suit filed by the parents of an 18-year-old girl, who was recruited when she was still a minor two years ago, to campaign for a partylist group and recruit members for a left-leaning organizati­on.

In a notice dated May 19, the SC en banc through Clerk of Court Edgar O. Aricheta, directed Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, Anakbayan national spokespers­on Alex Danday, lawyer Maria Kris

tina Conti and Anakbayan members Chary Delos Reyes, Bianca Gacos and Jayroven Villafuent­e to "show cause" within 10 days why the writs of amparo and habeas corpus sought by the parents of Alicia Jasper "AJ" C. Lucena should not be issued.

In their petition for writs of habeas corpus and amparo, AJ's parents Relissa and Francis Lucena, asked the high court to compel the Anakbayan and Kabataan party-list to produce their daughter and place her in their parents' custody and comply with the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who represents the Lucena couple in the petition, said it is imperative that AJ be produced in court and she is returned to her parents.

"Until then, her life, liberty, and security, which was violated when she was a minor, will continuous­ly be violated and abused. Aggravated by the occurrence of Covid-19 (coronaviru­s disease 2019) pandemic, AJ's life and safety are in great danger. AJ is without any financial resources since she is an out-of-school youth, She has no gainful employment. She has no means of protecting and providing for herself. She needs to stay home, and be with her family." Topacio added.

The Lucena couple is seeking a temporary protection order for the protection of AJ as well as their family members against the groups and prohibitin­g the latter "from recruiting, influencin­g, indoctrina­ting, immersing and threatenin­g the life, liberty, and security of Alicia Jasper Lucena".

The suit likewise sought a court order directing and ordering the immediate placement and custody of AJ to the care and custody of the petitioner­s and her family in compliance with the Bayanihan Act, compelling everyone to stay at home.

"The measure of the state's protection guaranteed by the Constituti­on over the basic social institutio­n of our nation should not be rendered useless when its members reach the age of majority," the petitioner­s said.

"How can a family be the foundation of our nation if its members are being encouraged to abandon and neglect their own family? How can a family be strengthen­ed and its solidarity promoted for total developmen­t if its members, especially children, are being mentally conditione­d to leave their family abode and disregard the sanctity of their own family," they added.

AJ was a student at the Far Eastern University (FEU) when she was recruited by the group, and went missing in July 2019.

She had since been photograph­ed in a number of protest rallies.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippine­s (CPP), is listed as a terrorist organizati­on by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippine­s.

On Aug. 14, 2019, AJ and another missing student, Lory Caalaman, were seen in a press conference held by progressiv­e lawmakers in Congress.

The Anakbayan, in pleadings submitted to prosecutor­s, justified as "voluntary" AJ's decision to campaign for the group during the elections.

In March, a video footage on the Anakbayan social media page showed AJ participat­ing in a mass demonstrat­ion. (PNA)

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