DND: Makabayan solon’s baseless tirades vs. RTC judge confirms members are CPP-NPA fronts

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QUEZON CITY, Dec. 18 (PIA) -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday said the Makabayan bloc’s baseless accusations hurled against Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert only confirmed their connections with the communist insurgents.

“With this act, the Makabayan bloc is not only impugning the character and integrity of Judge Villavert but the nation's entire justice system, as well,” Lorenzana said in a statement sent to the PIA-NCR.

“More importantly, the Makabayan bloc has confirmed what we have been saying all along that their members are fronts of the CPP-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army],” he added.

With the statement, the Department of National Defense has joined others to support Villavert in the face of the Makabayan bloc’s “baseless accusations” that she had issued irregular warrants against activists and progressive groups.

“We firmly believe that a judge of the Honorable Villavert’s caliber does not issue warrants without probable cause,” Lorenzana emphasized.

Office of the Solicitor General

Earlier, State Solicitor Gabriel S, Villanueva, Office of the Solicitor General’s spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), said the resolution filed by members of the Makabayan bloc urging the House Justice Committee to conduct an investigation on the warrants issued by Villavert against militants, does not fall under the power of inquiry of the legislative branch.

“The Legislative branch of government, much more any of its members, should not cross over the field of the determination of probable cause by the judge in the issuance of search warrants since, as earlier stated, the same is properly the domain of the Judiciary,” Villanueva said.

The government lawyer was reacting to Bayan party-list representatives who have reportedly been on a media blitz trying to discredit the judge who issued search warrants that resulted in the arrest of trade union organizers and a journalist last week.

The Makabayan bloc, on Dec. 15, filed House Resolution 1427 urging the House Justice Committee to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation.

The resolution said it was Villavert who authorized the conduct of raids in various offices of some militant groups in Tondo and Paco, Manila and in Bacolod last year.

It also pointed to Villavert as the one who issued "questionable" search warrants that led to the Dec. 10 arrest of Manila Today journalist Lady Ann Salem, and union organizers of labor group Defend Jobs Philippines namely Dennise Velasco, Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Astudillo, Jaymie Gregorio, Joel Demate, and Rodrigo Esparago.

The seven suspects, who are reportedly officials of the Metro Manila Regional Party Committee (MMRPC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), were arrested in simultaneous operations in Manila, Quezon City, and Mandaluyong.

Separation of powers

“House Resolution 1427 is a clear violation of the constitutional guarantee of separation of powers between and among co-equal branches of the government. In this case, between the legislative branch and the judicial branch of the government,” the statement added.

The determination of probable cause in the issuance of the search warrant, Villanueva said, is indisputably a function both constitutionally assigned and properly entrusted to the Judicial branch of government.

“What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself of the existence of probable cause,” he added.

The contents of the House Resolution, he said, embody accusations that the issuance of the search warrants was founded on fabricated facts.

“Clearly the resolution was drafted not in aid of legislation, as Makabayan bloc claims, rather, to accuse and impose judgment to the judge who issued the warrants,” he said. “There is no re-examination of the law to speak of, as the mandate for the determination of probable cause in the issuance of search warrants is given by the Constitution itself.

Villanueva went on to say that the personal determination of the judge as to the existence of a probable cause is within the realm of its wisdom and it cannot be questioned by anybody unless there is grave abuse of discretion.

“The determination of grave abuse of discretion is also a matter lodged before the judiciary and not the legislative,” he added.

Accusations against Villavert, he said, amount to nothing more than an attempt to undermine her position as an impartial judge.

Lack of respect for rule of law

“This betrays their lack of respect for the rule of law. There are judicial processes by which they could have challenged the judge’s actions. If they have failed or have been remiss in their efforts to do so, it serves no one to attack a judge’s credibility and impartiality,” he said.

He added that a judge is under no obligation to lean to one side simply on the strength of their belief in their cause.

“The rule of law is paramount, regardless of where the chips may fall. We must not erode the public’s trust in the judicial system, simply because we find a judge’s ruling landing on the other side of the political divide,” Villanueva said. “Let justice prevail.”

Former CPP-NPA cadres

Meanwhile, the Sentrong Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Bayan or SAMBAYANAN expressed disgust with what the group branded as “all forms of deception and lies” reportedly committed by Makabayan solons and other alleged legal front organizations of the CPP-NPA.

“They have made their usual covers and make-up stories of arrested CPP cadres claiming anew that they are just activists and union workers’ organizers. This has become a deceptive script of denial of the Makabayan Bloc,” lamented Joy James Saguino, Sambayanan media officer.

“It can be remembered that the arrest of Amanda Echanis aka Ka Waya, a top cadre of the NPA’s West Cagayan Front, has also been condemned by Makabayan Bloc claiming that the NPA leader Echanis is just an Anakpawis organizer in Cagayan Valley,” Saguino said.

“The apprehension of Geliejorain Ngojo aka Ka Mayo and Nasria Bansil aka Ka Ash after an armed skirmish between the 27IB and Guerrilla Front 55 at Paquibato District, Davao City was also condemned by the same communist fronts claiming that the two are just volunteer teachers of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc (MISFI). Rey Christian Sabado aka Ka Nads, another former rebel, was also arrested on October 2, 2019 in Las Navas, Northern Samar,” he added.

“It can be remembered that Kabataan Partylist also claimed that Sabado was just a researcher of Northern Samar Small Farmers’ Association. However, the statements of Kabataan Partylist were debunked by Sabado himself after admitting that he was indeed a cadre of NPA Guerrilla Front 2 of Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC),” he furthered.

Sambayanan, as a multi-sectoral organization primarily composed of former cadres and members of the CPP-NPA-NDF, its former underground mass organizations and other organizations, which reject and condemn violence, terrorism and armed struggle, has categorically revealed the “duplicitous character” of Makabayan Bloc as a front organization of the CPP deceitfully participating in the Philippine electoral system.

“The Filipino people are already cognizant of this grand conspiracy of the CPP and its legal front organizations,” Saguino emphasized.

“Sambayanan believes that the arrest of these CPP cadres followed judicial process and we have high recognition of the Judiciary’s professionalism and expertise in the issuance of the arrest and search warrants. It is of great insolence for the Makabayan Bloc to attack the credibility of the Judiciary and to question the determination of probable cause which led to the issuance of warrants by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert,” he added.

“This is an orchestra anew of the Makabayan Bloc to circumvent the law and divert from the matters involving the true identity of the apprehended CPP-NPA cadres. Through its underground organization of lawyers, the Lupon ng mga Manananggol para sa Bayan (LUMABAN), the program of the CPP is always to undermine the judicial process of the government,” he added.

“In this light, Sambayanan supports the continuing efforts of the Philippine Government in ending communist insurgency. We commend Judge Villavert on her will to stand with the rule of law against the lawless CPP-NPA. The recent arrest of top CPP-NPA cadres all over the country manifests the victory of the Filipino people. They have already rejected the communist program of the CPP-NPA. The whole-of-nation approach has been highly-significant and decisive in attaining peace and progress to communist-threatened communities. It has created stronger unities and convergence amongst all stakeholders towards our goal for a peaceful and progressive Philippines,” he further said.

Yes for Peace

Even peace advocate and Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan organizer Ernesto Alcanzare questioned Makabayan bloc’s intent.

"I am just wondering since when did members of the legislative branch of government have the power to investigate members of the judiciary?" Alcanzare pondered.

"Will it not open the floodgates of legislative meddling on the administration of justice and therefore drain scarce government resources that should be used solely on coming up with legislation for the benefit of the people?"

To date, more than 15 million Filipinos have responded to the Yes for Peace campaign making it a cost-effective instrument that could unite the Filipino people against all forms of armed conflict. (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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