Militant groups ordered to answer suit filed by recruit's parents

By Benjamin Pulta

May 22, 2020, 12:21 pm

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 party-list 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 Kristina 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)