Court of Appeals Decision on the DISMISSAL of the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus re: Alexandra Pacalda

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MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) junked the petition for habeas corpus filed by the family of a 24-year-old female communist rebel, who has been positively identified in photos with young recruits in firearms training maneuvers by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

In an 18-page decision dated Oct. 30 released Nov. 18, the appellate court, through Associate Justice Geraldine C. Fiel-Macaraig, dismissed the petition for habeas corpus filed by Alexandrea  Pacalda’s father, Arnulfo, against the government noting that charges for illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of explosives have already been filed against her.

The habeas corpus case was originally filed before the Supreme Court (SC) which later remanded it to the CA to look into the circumstances of her arrest in counter-insurgency operations by the military against NPA rebels in Barangay Magsaysay, Gen. Luna, Quezon on Sept. 14.

Alexandrea was brought to the headquarters of the Army’s 85th Infantry Batallion in Barangay Villa Principe, Gumaca, Quezon before she was transferred to the Gen. Luna Police Station and later to the headquarters of the 201st Brigade in Camp General Alfredo M. Santos, in Barangay Rizal Ilaya, Calauag, Quezon where she signed surrender papers as a rebel terrorist.

Two cases have been filed against Alexandrea for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9516 or Illegal Possession of Explosives and RA 10591 otherwise known as “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”. Her detention at the Female Dormitory of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Lucena City, was processed by Presiding Judge Edilwasif T. Baddiri of the Catanuan Quezon Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 96.

In ruling against the petition for habeas corpus, the court said, Alexandrea cannot be discharged, owing to her indictment for the two criminal offenses.

“Once the person detained is duly charged in court, (s)he may no longer question his detention by a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus,” the court said.

The court noted that the petitioner, Alexandrea’s father, himself admitted that her daughter “whom he taught initially to be just an activist was, in fact, a member of the NPA” and added that “the military did not coerce her into surrendering”.

She has been positively identified as Political Officer of the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front under a squad led by a certain “Cyrus”, Sub-Regional Military Area (SRMA),4b, Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC) operating in South Quezon Bondoc Peninsula.

“In fine, the petition praying for the release of Alexandrea from detention loses legal mooring and is rendered moot and academic by the subsequent information filed against her before the RTC Br. 96 of Catanauan, Quezon,” the court added.

Associate Justices Japar B. Dimaampao and Edwin B. Sorongon concurred. 

Alexandrea alias “Cosette/Cris”, voluntarily turned herself in to combined Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel.

She also surrendered a Smith and Wesson revolver, six live ammunition, and other war materiel.

Pacalda was reportedly a student of Enverga University in Lucena City, Quezon where she was an active member of the Gabriela Youth and the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) before joining the NPA.