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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

DOJ secures conviction of key CPP-NPA member

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has secured the conviction of a notorious member of the Communist Party of the Philippines -New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), who led a series of attacks against military personnel and communication facilities in Quezon province in 2005.

In a decision promulgated on May 16, 2024—a copy of which was furnished to the DOJ—the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 266 found Maria Salome Crisostomo, also known as Maria Salome Crisostomo Ujano, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rebellion.

The RTC sentenced Ujano to suffer imprisonment of 10 years of prision mayor as minimum, to 17 years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Court records show that on separate incidents from November 19 to 25, 2005 in Quezon province, Ujano and several others identified as officers and members of the CPP-NPA led attacks against state forces, killing and wounding several soldiers, destroying communication sites and various government properties.

During the trial, Ujano testified she has no connection with the NPA and alleged that from November 19 to 25, 2005, she was not in the vicinity or near Quezon Province. She said she was at St. Scholastica College in Leon Guinto, Malate, Manila.

“Evidently, members of the NPA took up arms against the armed forces, who act on behalf of the government. Further, the NPA also shouted ‘Mabuhay ang CPP-NPA,’ ‘Mabuhay ang Kilusan,’ and relayed to the armed forces for them to surrender. Taken altogether, the actions of the NPA members constitute acts of rebellion,” the trial court ruled.

The lower court also noted that the prosecution witnesses recognized some members of the NPA during the encounter—Ujano, among others, being one of the most wanted CPP-NPA members posted in the bulletin in their camps.

“Positive identification where categorical and consistent and without any showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter, prevails over a denial which, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence is negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law,” Judge Marivic Vitor ruled.

The RTC declared that the prosecution was able to prove the guilt of the accused Ujano beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rebellion.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla lauded the successful prosecution of the case. He attributed it to the efforts of the DOJ Task Force on Counter-Terrorism and Terrorism Financing led by Deputy State Prosecutor Peter Ong and his team of state prosecutors.

“We stood united once again in the face of sinister terrorists and conquered this menace by our resilience and unity. We will never back down against such evil who continue to destabilize the government and sow discord and division. This is the very guarantee we can give our country and people,” Remulla said.

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