Activists slam arrest of NGO worker for rebellion
The family and colleagues of a children’s rights defender, who had been coordinating with the government and even the police in her advocacy, expressed shock and indignation at her arrest on Sunday morning over a rebellion charge from more than a decade ago.
Activist Ma. Salome Crisostomo Ujano, 64, was arrested outside her home in the City of Malolos, Bulacan province, as she and her son had just arrived from an errand.
Ujano was still inside her car when the police told her that they were detaining her over a 2006 rebellion charge.
A warrant was issued on June 28 that year by then Lucena City Regional Trial Court Judge Virgilio Alfajora, after Ujano was charged for “conspiring, confederating and cooperating” to wage a rebellion in Quezon province.
Coordinating with police
According to a copy of the information against her, Ujano’s coaccused were Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chair Jose Maria Sison, now-deceased New People’s Army (NPA) leader Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, peace consultant Alan Jazmines, political prisoners Dionisio Almonte, Danilo Mendoza, Domingo Almosara and Armando Guevarra, and 100 others.
At that time, Ujano was executive director of the Women’s Crisis Center but was also becoming known as a children’s rights advocate.
She is currently the national coordinator of Philippines Against Child Trafficking (Pact).
It was in that capacity that Ujano, according to her fellow activists, had been coordinating with personnel of the Department of Justice and even the Philippine National Police in the pursuit of cases regarding violations of children’s rights.
Posting on social media, Child Rights Coalition Asia regional executive director Amihan Abueva said Ujano “has been training police officers on how to handle cases of women and children who have been abused and exploited, working with prosecutors, social workers and NGO (nongovernmental organization) staff.”
But in a news conference on Monday, newly appointed PNP chief, Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, claimed that Ujano had been in the government’s most wanted list, with a P5-million reward for her capture.
The rebellion case against Ujano “stemmed from [her] alleged involvement in a series of atrocities committed in Quezon … in 2005, particularly the ambush of Private First Class Michael Samsun and Corporal Edward Lumawig, in her capacity as a member of the Executive Committee Secretariat of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee of the [CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front],” Carlos said.
Pact, in a statement, denounced the “trumped-up charges” against Ujano.