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‘Reclusion perpetua’ for young NPA ‘amasona’

The price to pay for believing the lies of the CPP-NPA

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THE life and the seemingly bright future of a former young student who had been enticed to join the local communist terrorist movement are now in utter ruin after being sentenced to ‘reclusion perpetua’ by the Quezon Regional Trial Court after being caught, red-handed, of being in possession of a .38 revolver, ammunition and components for the manufacture explosives some 4 years ago.

In a decision dated March 13, 2023 penned by Honorable Judge Salvador Villarosa, RTC Branch 56, ordered to spend at least the next 30 years of her life under prison is Alexandrea ‘Alexa’ Pardilla Pacalda, a former student at the Manuel Enverga University Foundation in Lucena City, Quezon, for illegal possession of bomb components (violation of RA 9516).

Another sentence of between 8 to 10 years was also handed down against Pacalda for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition (violation of RA 10591), for a total of 40 years imprisonment.

Her guilt in the two cases, noted the court, was proven by the prosecution “beyond reasonable doubt.”

‘Reclusion perpetua’ (a Spanish word for ‘permanent imprisonment’) is different from a ‘life sentence’ in that under the former, a convict would have to spend at least 30 years behind bars before even being considered as eligible for pardon. It also includes the  ancillary penalty of perpetual special disqualification to hold any public office.

‘Brainwashed’ into recanting her surrender’

The court record showed that last September 14, 2019, members of the 85th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, chanced upon Pacalda at the house of Arrmando Buisan at Sitio Luyahan, Bgy. Magsaysay, General Luna, Quezon.

The house was under government surveillance amidst reports from the locals that members of the terrorist New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were frequenting the house of Buisan who was a former village “kagawad.”

The soldiers were conversing with Buisan over the reports when they saw Pacalda, then aged 23, in the company of 3 men, approaching the house near dusk, or past 5:00 pm.

On seeing the soldiers, the group scampered away prompting a chase that eventually resulted to the arrest of Pacalda as her companions managed to escape.

Found in her possession were the revolver, ammunition and plastic caps used for the manufacture of explosives that were presented to the court as evidence, along with 2 flash drives and 2 cellular phones.

After being booked at the General Luna Police Station the next day, Pacalda was brought to the headquarters of the 201st Brigade for her safety and where she subsequently issued an affidavit of surrender.

The NTF-ELCAC also condemned the NUPL and Karapatan for hoodwinking Pacalda and her family into believing that they can find a legal way to set her free by filing a writ of habeas corpus earlier before the Supreme Court.

She also bared that at the time of her arrest, she was the “political guide” of Platoon SOL Guerilla Unit 2, Sub-regional Military Area 4B of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC), using the aliases ‘Cossette’ and ‘Cris.’

Not surprisingly, however, after a series of visits to her by her family accompanied by lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) led by Atty. Sol Taule and members from ‘Karapatan,’ a front organization of the CPP (see also Pinoy Expose, April 26, 2021) Pacalda had a change of heart and recanted.

In her new affidavit prepared by the NUPL and Karapatan, Pacalda claimed innocence, insisting that she was actually a “para-legal” member of Karapatan doing “field work” in a remote part of Quezon infested with NPA terrorists while also denying possession of the items recovered from her at the time of her arrest.

Pacalda’s denial as an NPA member was despite the appearance at this time of several photos in social media showing her in active military training with other NPA terrorists somewhere in Quezon.

A perusal of the court record also showed the many contradictions and unbelievable statements that Pacalda made—narrations that were fed to her by Karapatan and NUPL– during the trial.

They include her failure to explain why a young woman like her was in the company of 3 men whose names she does not even know even as the night was falling; she also admitted to not personally knowing Buisan even as she also failed to show any proof that she was indeed a member of Karapatan and that her purported field work was known to local officials in the area.

The court said her narration of events was an “unlikely credible scenario in a painted canvass of consistent testimony.”

Wasted chance for a new life

Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Mirada, who closely followed the case on behalf of the Philippine Army and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said that as a parent and a mother, she was also “pained” by the court’s verdict on Pacalda.

Miranda noted that Pacalda crossed the bridge for a possible reconsideration of her status after she decided to recant her first statements and affidavit of surrender.

At the time she made her recantation, the Philippine Army is already processing her application under the ‘E-CLIP’ (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program). The program would not only pay Pacalda for the gun and ammunition recovered from her and provide her with livelihood assistance but more importantly, it would also clear her name from association with the CPP-NPA, thus helping her make a fresh start in life.

The NTF-ELCAC also condemned the NUPL and Karapatan for hoodwinking Pacalda and her family into believing that they can find a legal way to set her free by filing a writ of habeas corpus earlier before the Supreme Court.

Miranda noted that this petition was rejected by the court thus paving the way for a full trial.

Pacalda’s father, Arnulfo, said they labored for their daughter to graduate with a degree in mass communication for her own future.

But unknown to them, Pacalda, now 27, had already succumbed to the blandishments and enticements of the CPP that turned her into being a member of several CPP front organizations for the youth—GABRIELA, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Kabataan Partylist even as a student—before she decided to go “full time” inside the terrorist movement without their knowledge. The family hails from Bgy. Ibabang Iyam, Lucena City.

Arnulfo said they only learned of her whereabouts from the military after her capture.

While Pacalda is expected to appeal the verdict, possibly all the way to the Supreme Court, she would, in the meantime, continue to age and waste away all her time behind bars.

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