“National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s actions show that this government is indeed hell-bent on silencing its critics using the entire extent of its resources and through deliberately magnifying technicalities to veer the conversation away from the core issue of state-sponsored attacks by the Duterte government. ”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The filing of perjury complaint against human rights group Karapatan, women’s group Gabriela and religious group Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) only shows that the government is hell-bent on silencing its critics.
This is the response of Karapatan’s secretary general Cristina Palabay to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s recent filing of a complaint against their group before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office, July 2, Tuesday.
She said the filing of the perjury complaint against their group “deflects on the more fundamental matters and transcendental issues” in their petition.
Esperon accused the groups of “issuing false statements in their writs of amparo and habeas data petition.” He alleged that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has revoked RMP’s certificate of registration since Aug. 20, 2019.
Palabay said there is “no intent to falsify, manufacture or misrepresent anything even on such microscopic technicalities and minute procedural points.”
She pointed out, “The filing of a perjury complaint, along with other documented judicial harassment, extrajudicial killings, defamation and threats directed at our colleagues, is part and parcel of the attacks we face, aimed at discrediting our advocacy and invalidating the urgency of the pleas of the victims of human rights violations.”
Karapatan, Gabriela and RMP filed petitions for writ of amparo and writ of habeas data before the Supreme Court on May 6. On June 18, in a one-day hearing at the Court of Appeals (CA), the petitioners were not allowed to present their witnesses and other documents to prove their allegations. Ten days after, on June 28, the CA dismissed their petitions saying that “there is no substantial evidence to establish the petitioners’ allegations.”
The series of red tagging by military officials has made the groups filed the petitions. According to Karapatan there have been 145 activists killed since the beginning of Duterte’s presidency until March of this year.
The vilification of human rights defenders also continues. Just recently, Karapatan Central Visayas chairperson Phoebe Zoe Sanchez received a death threat sent via mobile that says, “Mrs. phoebe sanchez inihap na lang adlaw nimo dinhi sa kalibutan condolence sa imong pamilya (Mrs. phoebe sanchez your days in this world are numbered, condolence to your family)” and “Phoebe sanchez rest in peace.”
Human rights activist and lawyer Beverly Musni also reported that a streamer was placed outside her house in Cagayan de Oro City tagging her and several other persons as members and recruiters of the New People’s Army (NPA) regional unit committee.
“National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s actions show that this government is indeed hell-bent on silencing its critics using the entire extent of its resources and through deliberately magnifying technicalities to veer the conversation away from the core issue of state-sponsored attacks by the Duterte government,” Palabay said.