Court lifts bank freeze order against red-tagged women's group

FILE PHOTO: Concerned citizens, The AMIHAN group or the Pambansang Pederasyon ng Kababaihang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (National Federation of Peasant Women of the Philippines), as Movie and TV Actor Arthur Acuna joins them. People from all walks of life, gathers at Rajah Sulayman Park on February 16, 2019 at Baywalk, Manila, Philippines to join the One Billion Rising Solidarity Event, an advocacy calling to stop violence against women and children. A Manila court has lifted a funds freeze order against Amihan for lack of probable cause. (Photo by Josefiel Rivera/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Concerned citizens, The AMIHAN group or the Pambansang Pederasyon ng Kababaihang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (National Federation of Peasant Women of the Philippines), as Movie and TV Actor Arthur Acuna joins them. People from all walks of life, gathers at Rajah Sulayman Park on February 16, 2019 at Baywalk, Manila, Philippines to join the One Billion Rising Solidarity Event, an advocacy calling to stop violence against women and children. A Manila court has lifted a funds freeze order against Amihan for lack of probable cause. (Photo by Josefiel Rivera/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A Manila Court has lifted the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s (AMLC) bank freeze order issued against a red-tagged progressive peasants’ group, citing lack of probable cause of terrorist financing as accused by the government.

Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan National) received on Wednesday (April 6) an order from the Office of the Executive Judge of Manila denying the application for Asset Preservation Order (APO) and lifting the Provisional Asset Preservation Order (PAPO) requested by the AMLC against the organization.

Atty. Jobert Pahilga, lawyer for Amihan National, welcomed the decision dated March 1, saying that there is no “iota of evidence” that links Amihan National to terrorism or terrorist financing. He added that Amihan National is one of the several organizations red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“This case against Amihan National was initiated by the ALMC at the behest of NTF-ELCAC, to freeze the bank accounts and later forfeit the assets of Amihan National, on the allegation that it is involved in terrorist financing,” Pahilga said.

The counsel added that they have “proven to the court that contrary to AMLC and NTF-ELCAC’s malicious, unfounded, baseless and even dangerous accusations, there is no iota of evidence that would link Amihan National to terrorism or to terrorist financing.”

In November last year, the Court of Appeals also lifted AMLC’s freeze order on the bank account of Amihan National for lack of probable cause.

The AMLC in June 2021 issued a 20-day freeze order to several bank accounts including Amihan National’s account, based on the statement of two alleged rebel returnees.

According to their testimonies, the bank accounts received foreign donations which were used to support several tactical offensive operations by the New People’s Army (NPA).

However, Amihan said the focus of the organizations being investigated by the AMLC are operations implemented in Northern Mindanao while their organization is based in Quezon City and never had any projects in the provinces.

In lifting the freeze order, the CA said that “Nothing in the evidence directly or indirectly implicated respondent Amihan national in the terrorism financing scheme described [by two rebel returnees turned government witnesses].”

The organization added that AMLC also mistakenly attributed a bank account as theirs, questioning the regularity of the council’s freeze order.

Amihan is an organization of peasant women and a federation of peasant women’s organizations calling for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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