NTF-ELCAC welcomes charges vs Castro, Tamano
Updated: Jan 31
January 31, 2024
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) welcomes the filing of criminal charges under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against two communist recruits posed as environmental activists.
“We welcome the recommendation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file Grave Oral Defamation against Castro and Tamano,” NTF-ELCAC Executive Director and Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said Tuesday (Jan. 30, 2024).
Charged were Jonila Fababaer Castro and Jhed Reiyana Cruz Tamano, both alleged community organizers deployed as “volunteers” for the Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Pagtatanggol sa Kabuhayan, Paninirahan at Kalikasan ng Manila Bay (AKAP KA Manila Bay).
In an 18-page resolution dated December 12, 2023, state prosecutors resolved the complaint filed by Lieutenant Colonel Ronnel dela Cruz of the 7th IB, Philippine Army.
“Wherefore, it is recommended that respondents Jonila Fababaer Castro and Jhed Reiyana Cruz Tamano be separately charged for Grave Oral Defamation under Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and that the attached Informations thereof be approved,” the resolution stated.
Also in the resolution, the justice department dismissed the perjury case filed by dela Cruz that arose from Castro and Tamano’s recantations of their sworn affidavits surrounding their surrender to the military. “The complaint for perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is recommended dismissed,” the prosecutors said.
The prosecutors explained that all the elements of grave oral defamation are present in the case: imputation of kidnapping and grave coercion, statements were made in public, malicious, and caused dishonor to the complainant as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as an institution.
“The NTF-ELCAC welcomes the steps taken by the DOJ to address the matter swiftly and decisively. The proactive approach taken serves as a reminder of our shared commitment to preserving law and order,” Torres said.
“The decision made by our prosecutors to prosecute the two sends a clear message that actions harmful to the honor and dignity of NTF ELCAC, the Philippine Army, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will have the necessary legal repercussions,” he added.
It can be recalled that Castro and Tamano faced the media on September 19, 2023 in Plaridel, Bulacan where they surprisingly retracted their sworn statements.
A day before the press conference, Castro and Tamano agreed on their own free will to face the media to explain their voluntary surrender to the government. But to the shock of many, they instead accused the military of kidnapping them on the night of Sept. 2, 2023 in Orion, Bataan.
On Sept. 12, 2023, dela Cruz, commander of the Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion, formally accepted the surrender and took into custody Castro and Tamano upon their request at his headquarters in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.
NTF-ELCAC MEDIA BUREAU
Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco
January 31, 2024