Terrorist financing charges against CERNET

On May 8, 2024, the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges against 27 former and active members of the organization Community Empowerment Resource Network (CERNET) for alleged violations of the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10168). CERNET was accused of handing over in 2012 135,000 pesos to the South Eastern Front (SEF) group of the National People’s Army (NPA) in Dumaguete City, which is classified as a terrorist organization.

In a statement dated June 4, 2024, the Action Network Human Rights-Philippines (Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte-Philippinen/AMP) condemned the fabricated charges against CERNET as baseless accusations that only hinder the important work of human rights and development workers. The AMP also said that it appears that the Philippine government is under pressure to show progress in the prosecution of terrorism financing and money laundering cases in order to be removed from the “grey list” of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APL). Therefore, it uses laws to combat terrorism and money laundering against non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to fabricate such cases.

Alarming were also posts in the social media channels of the Cebu police that followed the charges against CERNET. Mugshots of individual defendants were used to spread information about false arrests. On May 20, 2024, the DOJ also warned CERNET of drastic consequences in the wake of the indictment for alleged terrorist financing.

Other NGOs are also affected by similar allegations, such as the NGOs Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG) and Leyte Centre for Development Enterprise (LCDE). PDG supports small-scale farmers in Negros Occidental in asserting their right to land. On April 29, 2024, individual active and former PDG members were charged with alleged violations of Republic Act 10168 and received a subpoena. The LCDE, which works in the disaster relief sector, was also charged with alleged violations of Republic Act 10168. Meanwhile, their bank account has been frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), hindering LCDE’s ongoing humanitarian operations.



Photo © Raffy Lerma


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