Party-list groups subpoenaed over 'missing minors'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a subpoena for various left-leaning party-list representatives and officials on Tuesday.

Among those named are Kabataan party-list representative Sarah Elago, Akbayan party-list representative Tom Villarin (mistakenly attributed as Anakbayan representative), Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday, former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares, officers of Kabataan party-list, and all members of Anakbayan.

This is based on an addendum to the complaint filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP-CIDG) at the DOJ on August 13.

The CIDG said that the above personalities were in violation of child trafficking and child abuse laws.

The Kabataan and Anakbayan party-lists were among the subjects of an ongoing Senate probe on minors allegedly recruited by leftist rebels through their legal fronts.

Elago has repeatedly declined attending the hearings due to on-going commitments in the House of Representatives.

In a statement, National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) spokesperson Edre Olalia said that the chargers are a part of an attack to legitimate dissent against the Duterte administration.

"Make no mistake about it: they are lining and rounding up the most voluble and visible people who stand in the way and who fight back against repression and injustice. It is indubitably part of the legal blitzkrieg and assault against legitimate dissent and those who push back and stand their ground," Olalia said in a statement.

Colmenares the current chairperson of the NUPL. Since 2016, the human rights lawyers' organization has faced three criminal charges, including a now dismissed kidnapping case and a pending arson case.

Another former representative from Bayan Muna, Satur Ocampo, is currently facing kidnapping for charges for allegedly abducting 14 minors in Davao del Norte.

Ocampo's people maintain that they were conducting a humanitarian mission with teachers from Lumad schools.

READ: Former solon Satur Ocampo, 17 others post bail