The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday condemned the murder conviction of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Concha Araneta, saying the case was only pursued to legally harass her.
“The conviction against Araneta was promulgated without legal representation by her lawyer, who could no longer effectively perform his work after she was forced to go underground in the face of threats to her life by military and police forces,” the CPP said in a statement.
The CPP issued the statement a day after the Taguig Regional Trial Court sentenced Araneta with reclusion perpetua and found her guilty of murder over the 1975 death of Metudio Inisa in Aklan.
The counsel filed a motion to withdraw in April 2022, saying he has not had communication with Araneta for the last three years and has no information on her last known address.
The Department of Justice said the promulgation of the judgment was done in absentia “considering that Araneta has not appeared before the Court since the suspension of peace negotiations.”
Meanwhile, the CPP said Araneta has been the subject of “constant state repression” and was designated as a terrorist by the Duterte administration “without basis.”
“A month after her ‘designation,’ police forces extrajudicially killed her husband, Reynaldo Bocala, and his companion, in their residence in Pavia, Iloilo,” it said.
The military previously said that Bocala and his companion died during a shootout with joint military-police operatives in Iloilo in November 2021.
According to the CPP, Araneta’s conviction is part of the continuing persecution of NDFP peace consultants “to prevent them from performing their tasks in promoting the people’s aspirations for national freedom, genuine democracy, and social justice as basis for a just and lasting peace.”
The CPP said at least 10 NDFP peace consults have been killed since 2017 while 14 other have been arrested, of which 12 remains detained. —Joahna Lei Casilao/KBK, GMA News