The Department of Justice on Monday said 16 persons, including members of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), were charged in court for alleged involvement in the funding of the terrorist organization Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
DOJ spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano said the criminal charges were filed before the Iligan City Regional Trial Court against Sister Emma Teresita E. Cupin, Sr. Susan M. Dejolde, Ma. Fatima Napoles Somogod, Sr. Augustina C. Juntilla, Sr. Mary Jane C. Caspillo, Melissa Amado Comiso, Czarina Golda Selim Musni, Maridel Solomon Fano, Jhona Ignilan Stokes, Hanelyn Caibigan Cespedes, Angelie Z. Magdua, Emilio Gabales, Mary Louise Dumas, Aileen Manipol Villarosa, Evelyn Lumapas Naguio, and Aldeem Abroguena Yanez.
Clavano said they were charged in 55 information (criminal charge sheet) with violations of Section 8(ii) of Republic Act No. 10168, the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.
According to Clavano, the charges were filed after a panel of DOJ prosecutors conducted a preliminary investigation on the complaints filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Section 8(ii) of RA 10168 makes any person an accomplice in financing terrorism if he or she “makes available any property or funds, or financial services or other related services to a designated and/or identified person, organization, association, or group of persons.”
Violators under the law “shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua” and a fine of not less than P500,000 nor more than P1 million.”
During the preliminary investigation, Clavano stated: “Respondents failed to submit their respective counter-affidavits during the preliminary investigation. Thus, no defense on the part of the respondents were received by the prosecuting panel.”
The DOJ official said the AMLC filed the complaint before the DOJ after looking into the bank accounts of RMP/RMP-Northern Mindanao Region (NMR) based on the sworn statements of two former members of the CPP-NPA.
“According to the witnesses, the RMP/RMP-NMR, through its officers and staff, prepare project proposals to be presented to foreign funders. Once the proposed projects are approved, these foreign funders will wire money to the bank accounts of RMP/RMP-NMR,” he said.
Upon receipt of the money, Clavano said that RMP/RMP-NMR allotted 40 percent to proposed projects, and 60 percent “will be channeled to the CPP-NPA as support for the purchase of firearms, ammunition, etc. in the conduct of tactical offensives.”
The AMLC pleaded before the Court of Appeals (CA) the freezing of the bank accounts of RMP/RMP-NMR.
On Feb. 11, 2020, the CA granted AMLC’s petition to freeze the accounts for 20 days, and on Feb. 21, 2020, the appellate court issued a resolution that extended the freeze order.