25 individuals accused of funding NPA ask DOJ review, cite lack of evidence

Negros Oriental map.
Negros Oriental map.

THE trial of 23 of the 25 individuals accused of giving financial support to the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Oriental faces delay as the court deferred their arraignment on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

This comes after the 25 individuals filed a petition asking the Secretary of Justice (SOJ) to review the case against them, as allegations from the military are not supported by evidence, according to Mel Ebo, legal counsel for some of the accused.

The accused were charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 10168, or Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012. The case is pending before Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in Cebu City.

Ebo told SunStar Cebu on Thursday that the arraignment of most of the accused had been deferred pending the SOJ’s decision on their petition. The arraignment of two accused was pushed through Thursday, but they entered a not guilty plea.

The arraignment and pre-trial conference for the rest of the accused is scheduled on Sept. 19.

An earlier report stated that 27 individuals, mostly members of progressive groups, were charged for allegedly delivering P135,000 to the NPA-South East Front in Dumaguete City in September 2012.

However, the number of accused has decreased to 25 as the other two are deceased, according to Ebo.

The Visayas Command (Viscom) filed a complaint against Cernet, which provides small funds to people’s organizations and capacitates them according to their projects, for violating RA 10168 before the Department of Justice in September 2023.

Viscom said Cernet, which is based in Cebu City, “has long been utilized by the country’s prime internal threat group, the Communist Terrorist Group, on its fund generation scheme since 2001 basically to support its logistical and financial requirements.”

Activist Jaime Paglinawan, one of the accused, said the case aims to destroy the image of Cernet. He is the chairman of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Central Visayas.

Ebo said the trial of the 25 individuals is a long process with “possibilities of counter actions and counter challenges against the witnesses.”

“The military had witnesses who claimed that Cernet gave funds to the NPA,” Ebo said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

“However, we have documentary evidence and testimony that would show it is false and has no basis. In fact, the complaint of the witness is not supported by any evidence other than the testimony itself, so there really is none,” he added. / CDF

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