Church group decries order to arrest nun
An organization of priests, sisters and laymen has denounced a Quezon City prosecutor’s ruling that allowed a perjury case to proceed against Sr. Elenita Belardo, a former national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant against the 80-year-old nun.
Belardo was one of the respondents in the case filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon in July in retaliation for the petitions for the writs of Amparo and habeas data filed by RMP, Karapatan and Gabriela in May, according to an RMP statement issued on Thursday.
After conducting a preliminary investigation, the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed Esperon’s complaint against the majority of the respondents but not against Belardo, the group said.
“While we welcome the dismissal of the case against Sr. Emma Cupin … of RMP-Northern Mindanao and other copetitioners from Karapatan and Gabriela, we are alarmed that they decided to pursue the allegations against Sr. Elen, who spent most of her life working with the rural poor as a testament of her love and commitment to Christ, “ said Sr. Elsa Compuesto, the current RMP national coordinator.
During the preliminary hearing, the group said, Belardo and her lawyers defended the statement she made in the affidavit affixed in the petitions, saying it was done in good faith and was in no way intended to falsify information.
The QC Prosecutor’s Office, however, said “her defense of good faith … cannot be given full faith and credence there being a clear showing that false narration of facts has actually been committed.”
RMP claimed the perjury case was filed by Esperon against the petitioners “to turn the discussion away from the real issue and as reprisal to stop them from speaking about widespread human rights violations.”
“Ultimately, we know that this is part of the efforts to discredit and vilify our organization and to impede our missionary work and advocacy for land, justice and peace, “ Compuesto said.
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