“Anyone who affords legal remedies such as writs of amparo and habeas data will now be subjected to reprisals like this. We deem the accusations by NSA Esperon (not only) as baseless and malicious but also a serious attack on the basic right to access legal mechanisms.”
By ARNETH ASIDDAO
MANILA– Human rights advocates greeted National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. with a protest action, Aug. 1, in front of the Quezon City Hall of Justice.
Esperon appeared before the court’s first hearing on the perjury charges he filed against members of Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Gabriela.
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that they will submit a counter-affidavit to Esperon’s perjury complaint on August 15.
Palabay said that the perjury case was not only an act of retaliation against human rights defenders but also a blatant form of persecution of critics under the current administration.
“Anyone who affords legal remedies such as writs of amparo and habeas data will now be subjected to reprisals like this. We deem the accusations by NSA Esperon (not only) as baseless and malicious but also a serious attack on the basic right to access legal mechanisms,” added Palabay.
On June 28, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition for the writs of habeas corpus and habeas data filed by Karapatan, Gabriela and RMP, to which Esperon was one of the respondents, along with President Rodrigo Duterte and military officials under his administration.
Esperon filed the perjury complaint four days later, accusing the groups of making false statements in their claim that RMP is duly registered as a non-stock, non-profit corporation under Philippine laws.
In his three-page affidavit, Esperon said that the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) already revoked the certificate of registration of the RMP on August 20, 2003 for its failure to submit the required documents.
In a statement, RMP said it filed for the renewal of their registration in 2010, with documents to prove that the SEC received them.
Esperon identified Palabay, Karapatan Chairperson Tita Lubi, Vice Chairperson Reylan B. Vergara, and Deputy Secretary Romeo Clamor, Jose Mari Callueng, Fr. Wilfredo Ruazol, Sr. Elenita Belardo and Sr. Emma Cupin, Joan May Salvador and Gertrudes Ranjo-Liang, filmmaker Krista Dalena, and Edita Burgos, mother of disappeared Jonas Burgos as respondents in the case.
Karapatan said that Esperon was only “magnifying technicalities… and is instead attacking organizations instead of answering the allegations made against him and other respondents.”
Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela and one of the respondents, also added, “It is appalling that . . . state agents who commit a multitude of rights violations against the people are practically absolved from accountability, while there is no letup to the harassment and pressures by the Duterte government against activists, human rights defenders and legitimate people’s organizations that push for real change and fight for democracy and social justice.”
Aside from filing a counter-affidavit, Palabay said that they have also filed a petition for review, urging the Supreme Court to reverse the CA decision on their petition for the writs of habeas corpus and amparo.