Thursday, March 26, 2020

3 suspected CPP-NPA members indicted for recruitment of minors

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 26, 2020): 3 suspected CPP-NPA members indicted for recruitment of minors (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

CASE FILED. Personnel of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Western Visayas assist the minors and their parents in the filing of charges against the accused of qualified trafficking in persons before the Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office in November last year. The De la Cerna couple and their daughter have been charged before the Regional Trial Court earlier this month. (PNA Bacolod file photo)

The City Prosecutor’s Office here has charged three suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Occidental with two counts of qualified trafficking in persons before the Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The accused were identified as couple Albert and Ma. Pilar de la Cerna and their daughter Karina Mae,
who are charged with violation of Section 4 (k) (1) in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 9208 as amended by Republic Act 10364.

The information for the two cases, with no recommended bail, was filed by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Fernand Castro before the RTC on March 13.

In Criminal Case No. 20-51659, the de la Cernas were charged with “conspiring, confederating, and acting in concert” and “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit, harbor and transported” a 17-year-old male minor in 2017.

The charge sheet showed that this happened “by way of deception, taking advantage of the latter’s vulnerability and promising benefits for exploitation purpose of using him for armed conflict against the government”.

In Criminal Case No. 20-51660, the three accused were also charged with the same violation committed in October 2019, involving four minors, including a 12-year-old girl, two 15-year-old boys, a 17-year-old boy, and also an 18-year-old male.

As provided in Section 4 (k) (1), trafficking for purposes of exploitation of children shall include all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, involuntary servitude, debt bondage and forced labor, including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

Albert and Karina were among those arrested during the simultaneous raids in the offices of militant groups in Bacolod last October. Both are also facing separate criminal cases for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and illegal possession of explosives.

Days after the raid, the minors rescued in one of the raids were joined by their parents with the assistance of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Western Visayas in filing the complaints for trafficking in persons against the accused and their three companions.

Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, welcomed the development in the cases filed against the suspected CPP-NPA members as he reiterated the government’s desire to put an end to the recruitment scheme of the communist-terrorist group.

“We are seeing here the government’s serious and united efforts to quell their recruitment activities, particularly among the minors. Let this serve as a warning to those who still continue to do it,” Vinoya added.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

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