|Philippine President Benigno Aquino is flanked by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte as they stand in prayer during his third State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Metro Manila July 23, 2012. (Cheryl Ravelo/REUTERS)
TORONTO - A former high-ranking intelligence officer in the Philippines army is fighting to stay in Canada, claiming he will be killed by a terror group if sent back home.
Ernie Villegas Lumocso was a former sergeant and team leader in the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAP), who arrived here to study English in 2007 as part of military training program.
He is accused of taking part in crimes against humanity.
Lumocso, who once lived in Toronto but now resides in Montreal, filed an unsuccessful refugee claim and subsequent appeal to the Federal Court of Canada that was dismissed on July 20.
Federal immigration officials alleged the former soldier and radio operator "had participated, as an accomplice, in crimes against humanity committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)."
Lumocso argued he faces death from members of a Abu Sayyaf separatist group for the 2003 arrest of their leader, Galib Andang, who is also known as "Commander Robot."
Comrades gave the military commander the nickname after Andang managed to walk around and fire his weapon despite suffering chest wounds in a battle. Lumocso was awarded that country's prestigious Distinguished Conduct Star Award for the arrest.
"The Board (Immigration and Refugee Board) found that serious grounds exist by which to consider the applicant had participated in crimes against humanity as an accomplice during his military service," Mr. Justice Michel Shore said in a decision.
Court heard the AFP had been fighting the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army and Muslim secessionists in Mindanao.
The court rejected Lumocso's argument that the human rights violations were committed by communists and Abu Sayyaf and not the AFP.
"He (Lumocso) was an active member of the intelligence in the global war against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group conducted by the AFP," Shore said. "The applicant had actively been involved as an intelligence official and had acted with wilful blindness."
Court heard Lumocso had opportunities to leave AFP and didn't. He even "wore his military uniform" to immigration hearings in Canada.
"Remaining in an organization in a leadership position with knowledge that the organization was responsible for crimes against humanity may constitute complicity," Shore wrote.
Philippines human rights activists have documented dozens of alleged cases in which AFP officers beat and tortured people. No date has been set for Lumocso's deportation.