Edita Burgos, 9 more charged with perjury
MANILA, Philippines — Ten human rights advocates, including the mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, who had sought legal protection from the Supreme Court last year, now face perjury charges filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon before a Quezon City court.
Charged before the QC Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 37 were Edita Burgos, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, Karapatan members Gabriela Krista Dalena, Elisa Tita Lubi, Roneo Clamor, Jose Mari Calleung and Wilfredo Ruazol, Gabriela secretary general Joan May Salvador, Gabriela member Gertrudes Libang, and Emma Cupin of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).
Except for Palabay, who is in Geneva coordinating with the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Cupin, all those charged have posted a bail of P18,000 each ahead of an arrest warrant from the court.
In May last year, members of Karapatan, Gabriela and RMP filed a petition for the issuance of writs of amparo and habeas corpus against cases of Red-tagging and human rights violations directed at their groups.
In their petition, the groups named as respondents President Duterte and several military and government officials, including Esperon, as well as members of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Two months later, Esperon filed perjury charges against Elenita Belardo, national coordinator of RMP, 11 others from the group and from Karapatan and Gabriela.
Only 1 indicted
But only Belardo, an 80-year-old Catholic nun, was indicted in November last year.
Esperon questioned Belardo’s claim that RMP was registered before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), when SEC records showed that RMP’s registration was revoked in 2003.
Palabay, who said she will post bail when she returns home, slammed the “reprisal suit” against them as a form of abuse of the judicial system, as it was being used as “an instrument of political persecution.”
Gabriela said the move “[has] insidious timing as we prepare for International Working Women’s Day on March 8, since eight of the respondents of the case are women.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.