On the revival of dismissed trumped-up perjury charges against several activists and human rights defenders
We, political prisoners of Camp Bagong Diwa and in various jails in the Philippines, strongly condemn the revival of dismissed trumped-up perjury charges against ten (10) human rights defenders and activist leaders of KARAPATAN, GABRIELA and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) by National Security Adviser and vice chairman of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) retired General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.
The perjury charges against these leaders were earlier dismissed by Quezon City Senior Assistant Prosecutor Nilo Peñaflor in December 2019 for “lack of probable cause” and/or “insufficiency of evidence”.
The case proceeded to be filed against former National Coordinator Sr Elenita Belardo. Now, Quezon City Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano “found probable cause” to indict the said leaders following the filing of a motion for reconsideration by General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.
The general alleges that the said organizations are “not duly registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission and “have links with communist rebels,” thus questioning their “legal ability to have filed a petition before the courts.”
This harassment is a retaliation against the said activists for seeking legal protection against government surveillance, intimidation, red-tagging, harassment and other attacks through the writ of Amparo as well as access to information through the writ of habeas data, and is a prelude for further attacks.
These organizations and leaders are staunch defenders of the interests of farmers, indigenous peoples, women, children and the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the people. They are part of a broad range of organizations, institutions and personages who promote the movement for just and lasting peace and the release of all political prisoners.
The said action is part of the NTF-ELCAC’s frantic moves to pre-empt, prevent and sabotage ongoing efforts for the removal of obstacles to the resumption of peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP. The state campaign to vilify, intimidate and harass human rights defenders, activists and other critics of government aims to counter the scheduled June 2020 report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations regarding the human rights situation in the Philippines and the ongoing preliminary examination in the Philippine situation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The perjury charge is another proof of the bankruptcy of the legal and political system. It sends a strong message to the people that they cannot fully and principally rely on the legal and political system but rather on their own collective action of bigger mass mobilizations in the parliament of the streets to defend their rights against fascism and tyranny. By closing the already little space for legal protection and by curtailing the basic freedoms against threats to life, liberty and security, the Duterte government is driving more people to resistance.
Oppose state terrorism and offensives against activists, human rights defenders and other critics of government!
Rescind EO70 and dismantle the NTF-ELCAC!
Resume the peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP!
Release all political prisoners!
Rey Claro Casambre
March 8, 2020
Camp Bagong Diwa