Manila court orders DOJ to summon Joma in 'terror tag' plea

By Benjamin Pulta

February 12, 2019, 5:48 pm

MANILA -- A Manila court hearing the government's petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organizations has dropped more than 600 names in the original petition filed by the government against the rebel group.

In an eight-page resolution dated February 1, Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 Judge Marlo A. Magdoza-Malagar also directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to instead serve summons to the organizations, through the terror groups' known leaders Jose Maria Sison and Antonio Cabanatan.

"The addresses of Jose Maria Sison and Antonio Cabanatan being unknown, service of summons shall be made by publication," the court ruled.

The order expunged the names of more than 600 personalities in the original government petition but whose links to the organization were not substantiated by evidence.

The DOJ has identified eight individuals as current officers of the CPP-NPA on whom summons may be served namely Sison, Cabanatan, Jorge Madlos, Jaime Padilla, Francisco Fernandez, Cloefe Lagapon, Leonido Nabong and Myrna Solarte.

The magistrate explained that "its interest in ensuring the petitioner (DOJ) identified only those with unassailable links to the respondent-organizations is not because these parties are considered respondents to the petition but only because their undisputed link to the CPP-NPA is necessary for this court to ensure proper service of summons and acquire jurisdiction over the instant petition and herein respondents,"

The court, in underscoring Sison's links, cited sworn statements from a number of individuals executed between 2003 and 2014 including the sworn statement of Ruben Guevarra dated Jan. 15, 2003 executed at the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) referring to Sison as the CPP-NPA Central Committee and Military Commission chairman and the direct head and mover of the NPA and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Likewise cited was the sworn statement of Veronica Tabara dated May 22, 2006 and Oct. 9, 2006 in Sibulan, Negros Oriental referring to Sison as the founding, elected and recognized chairman of the Central Committee of the CPP/NPA/NDF.

The court also considered affidavits of Gloria Asuncion in May 2006 naming Sison as the chief of the Political Bureau and the Executive Committee and Military Commission of the CPP/NPA as well as sworn statements of Rafael Cruz, Glecerio Roluna, and Numeriano Beringuel in Tacloban City.

The court also noted that an indictment in 2007 before the Hilongos, Leyte RTC Branch 18 accused Sison as leader of the NPA members who were behind the murder of 15 persons whose bodies were found buried in a mass grave at Sitio Mt. Sapang Dako, Barangay Kauslisihan, Inopacan, Leyte.

An indictment in 2014 pending before the Manila RTC Branch 32 also named Sison for the murder of Juanita Aviola who was among those found buried in the Leyte along with Concepcion Aragon, Gregorio Eras, Teodoro Recones Jr., Restituto Ejoc, Rolando Vasquez, Junior Milyapis, Crispin Dalmacio, Zacarias Casil, Pablo Daniel, Romeo Tayabas, Domingo Napules, Ciriaco Daniel, Crispin Prado, Ereberto Prado. The deaths are suspected to be a purging by the organization of suspected military spies within its ranks.

The court said the DOJ's amended petition excluding the names of personalities alleged to be members of the CPP-NPA shall be taken as basis for the court to declare nine individuals along with the 600 other personalities as "non-parties"

The nine, namely Joanna Carino, Joan Carlin, Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding, Beverly L. Longid, Windel B. Bolinget Sr., Elisa Tita Lubi, Rey Claro Casambre, Sherwin De Vera and Randall B. Echanis as well as the more than 600 personalities named and enumerated in the DOJ's original petition were labeled non-parties to the government's amended petition.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified that it is the CPP-NPA and not the individuals mentioned in the petition who are the subject of the action for a judicial declaration (or proscription) as terrorists.

"The individuals were named only for the purpose of serving summons on entities with unknown addresses. The increase or decrease in their number has no relevance to the main cause of action," Guevarra told the Philippine News Agency.

The CPP-NPA has been tagged as a terror group by the United States and the European Union. (PNA)