PHILSTAR

A REGIONAL trial court in Taguig City has convicted a former peace negotiator and three other members of the communist movement over a shooting incident in 1975, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

In a press briefer released on Thursday, the DoJ said the court sentenced the four to life in prison after finding them “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of killing an individual in Madalag, Aklan.

One of those convicted is Maria C. Araneta-Bocal, a former spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), a coalition of progressive organizations.

She was part of the NDFP-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army panel during peace talks with the government.

The court promulgated the decision on June 21 despite Ms. Bocal not appearing before the court since the government suspended peace talks with communist groups in 2018.

In 2015, she pleaded not guilty to the charge through her legal counsel. Her lawyer filed a motion to withdraw as counsel in April 2022, saying she had no communication with her client in the past three years, adding she did not know where she lived.

BusinessWorld sought Ms. Bocal’s comment through social media pages associated with her though unverified. There was no immediate response. — John Victor D. Ordoñez