Rights groups slam conviction of activist tied to NPA

Rights groups slam conviction of activist tied to NPA

By: - Correspondent / @dtmallarijrINQ
/ 05:46 AM May 18, 2024

Rights groups slam conviction of activist tied to NPA

Maria Salome Crisostomo Ujano has never been in hiding, according to her daughter Karla Ujano. (Photo courtesy of KARLA UJANO)

LUCENA CITY—Human rights advocates denounced the conviction of a children and women’s rights activist of the alleged crime of rebellion, saying that the court ruling contradicted a recent landmark decision by the Supreme Court against Red-tagging.

In a statement on Friday, the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns assailed the decision on Thursday by the Regional Trial Court Branch No. 266 in Taguig City, saying that its ruling against activist Ma. Salome “Sally” Crisostomo-Ujano was “based on fabricated charges of rebellion.”


“It is a flagrant injustice and a direct attack on a dedicated advocate for children’s rights in the Philippines,” the group said.


The court affirmed Crisostomo-Ujano’s alleged involvement in an encounter between government troops and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Quezon province sometime between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25, 2005.

‘Unjust verdict’

The veteran activist, 67, was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 17 years and four months.

Salinlahi said the conviction of Crisostomo-Ujano “does not only undermine the vital work she has done but also serves as a grave affront to the protection of Filipino children’s rights.”

“This unjust verdict sends a chilling effect across the community of child rights advocates, perpetuating an atmosphere of fear and silence that endangers the very efforts to safeguard the welfare of Filipino children,” the group said.

Salinlahi also said the verdict “adds insult to the injury of the very victims of child trafficking, whom she has tirelessly worked to protect and support.”

The activists noted further that the Taguig court’s decision “stands in sharp contrast” to the May 8 ruling by the Supreme Court which declared “Red-tagging” a threat to people’s lives, liberty and security.


They demanded that the court overturn the “unjust verdict and dismiss all baseless charges” against Crisostomo-Ujano.

‘In the public eye’

Other groups also slammed the decision against Crisostomo-Ujano as “baseless, because she has always been in the public eye in the last three decades, working hard to protect the rights of women and children.”

“The state must protect not only women and children, but also those who protect and defend women and children,” said a joint statement by Child Rights Coalition Asia, Philippines Against Child Trafficking and Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific.

Crisostomo-Ujano was arrested in Malolos, Bulacan, on Nov. 14, 2021. The police presented her with an arrest warrant for the charge of rebellion dated June 28, 2006.

According to her family, Crisostomo-Ujano had not received any court summons before her arrest.

After about a year in detention, she was released on bail on Dec. 29, 2022.

The Free Sally Ujano Movement, a coalition of children and women’s rights advocates, held a prayer campaign for her release on May 12, Mother’s Day. They were joined by Crisostomo-Ujano’s relatives, friends and other supporters.

The detained activist was executive director of the Women’s Crisis Center from 2000 to 2007 and is currently national coordinator of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking since 2008.

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She was also among those who lobbied and worked for the drafting and implementation of such laws as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004.

TAGS: court, NPA

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