THE Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday announced that a probable cause has been found to indict four nuns and 11 others for allegedly soliciting funds intended to finance the terrorist activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
In a statement, the DOJ said 55 information for violation of Section 8 (ii) of Republic Act 10168 (Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012), as amended, was filed as of Monday before the Regional Trial Court of Iligan City against the respondents, mostly officers and staff of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR).
The said provision states that: “ Any person who, not being an accomplice under Section 6 or accessory under Section 7 in relation to any property or fund … 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, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00).”
The DOJ identified the respondents as Sister Emma Teresita Cupin, Sister Susan Dejolde, Sister Augustina Juntilla, Sister MaryJane Caspillo, Fatima Napoles Somogod, Melissa Amado Comiso, Czarina Golda Selim Musni, Maridel Solomon Fano, Jhona Ignilan Stokes, Hanelyn Caibigan Cespedes, Angelie Magdua, Emilio Gabales, Mary Louise Dumas, Aileen Manipol Villarosa, Evelyn Lumas Naguio and Aldeem Abroguena Yañez.
The Justice department, on the other hand, dismissed the complaint against Edgardo Naguio for insufficiency of evidence.
DOJ spokesman, lawyer Jose Dominic Clavano said no bail was recommended for the respondents.
Clavano also said the respondents failed to submit their respective counter-affidavits during the preliminary investigation, prompting the DOJ to resolve the case solely based on the complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and its witnesses and documentary evidence presented. Clavano said the case stemmed from the revelations made by several former communist rebels on the alleged illegal fund-raising by the respondents to support the CPP-NPA.
The CPP-NPA has been designated a terrorist organization by the Philippine government, the United States Department of State and the European Union.
On the basis of the sworn statements of two former members of the CPP-NPA, the AMLC inquired into the bank accounts of RMP-NMR with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).
The AMLC directed BPI to freeze these bank accounts for 20 days, which was later extended up to six months by the Court of Appeals upon finding that the bank accounts are related to the financing of terrorism and/or they are utilized as conduit to facilitate the commission of financing of terrorism. One witness was a former member of the CPP-NPA and a finance officer of various CPP-NPA nongovernment organizations’ fronts, including RMP/RMP-NMR.
Based on the affidavit of the witness, 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.
Upon receipt of the money, RMP/RMP-NMR will allot 40 percent of the money for the proposed projects; and 60 percent will be channeled to the CPP-NPA as support for purchase of firearms, ammunition, etc. in the conduct of tactical offensives, the DOJ said.
The DOJ noted that Musni, Fano, Dumas and Villarosa, alleged members of the CPP-NPA, were made payees in several checks issued by Somogod, Musni, and Fano under RMP/RMP-NMR’s BPI account.
On the other hand, cashiers Cespedes and Magdua distributed funds according to the 60-40 scheme upon orders of Gabales.
“Cespedes provided the 60 percent to Fano by issuing checks. Fano gave funds to Yañez, who is one of the officers of NCMRC, CPP-NPA,” the DOJ said.
The DOJ said Cupin, Dejolde and Comiso, who are president, secretary and finance officer, respectively, of RMP-NMR, along with Caspillo and Juntilla, who are members of the board of trustees, are responsible for the operations of RMP/RMP-NMR.
“They authorized Musni, Fano, Somogod and Stokes to issue checks under the RMP/RMP-NMR’s bank accounts to be received by Dumas, Villarosa, Evelyn Naguio and Yañez, who are members of the NCMRC, CPP-NPA,” the DOJ declared.