As Esperon’s reprisal perjury case nears resolution, Karapatan calls for its dismissal

On October 3, 2019, Karapatan, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) are set to file a rejoinder to the prosecutor’s office, with regard to allegations made by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. This will be the last process before the trumped-up perjury case filed by Esperon will be submitted for resolution before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office. The false and malicious charges were lodged against officers of the said groups on July 2, 2019, after said organizations filed an amparo and habeas data petition at the Supreme Court in May 2019 to seek legal protection from threats and violence as human rights defenders and development workers.

“Esperon’s complaint does not hold water. It is based on contorted allegations used to harass Karapatan, Gabriela, and the RMP. Esperon’s complaint cited that RMP committed perjury because it allegedly made a false statement on the organization’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration. Despite only mentioning RMP’s case, Gabriela and Karapatan were still included in the perjury case. There are no direct claims against the other two organizations, but we will all face this together. Esperon’s side is now hurrying to stretch their lies, but even they know they are walking on thin ice,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Shortly after Esperon’s perjury case, RMP released a statement stating that it did not have any intent to falsify, manufacture, or misrepresent anything, even on minute procedural points. RMP clarified that they have records showing they filed for a renewal of registration in 2010 and from then on, have been submitting General Information Sheet (GIS) and Audited Financial Statements to the SEC, thus bolstering their assertion that they exist as a de facto NGO. No notice that their application was rejected was given to RMP.

“RMP has shown that it did not make a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood, unlike what Esperon would want to maliciously insinuate. During the course of the amparo petition, it has been clarified that organizations – whether registered with the SEC or not – still have legal standing to avail of the amparo remedy. Esperon is really gritting his teeth as he runs out of absurd lies to hurl against human rights organizations. This government wants to turn the tables on human rights defenders, nuns, filmmakers, women activists, and others who sought protection from a series of violations, but they have merely exposed their rotten, vindictive and devious schemes,” said Palabay.

“The likes of Esperon are truly shameful. From being Gloria Arroyo’s lapdog and corrupt general, he is now a bootlicking minion for Duterte. Esperon’s career has been fraught with corruption, irregularities, and human rights violations. Now, he is among the leaders in the government’s crusade against human rights defenders under the National Task Force (NTF) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. Esperon has no credibility to accuse human rights defenders because he is a sorry excuse for a man. We remember his crimes against the Filipino people,” added Palabay.

“No matter how much government seek to sidetrack the issue and silence the victims, the problems of State-perpetrated human rights violations continue and the call for justice reverberates.  For this case, we stand alongside RMP in asserting that no deliberate and willful falsehood was done in the course of our amparo and habeas data petition. This perjury charge is baseless, akin to the many lies that these militarists have peddled. We thus urge the Department of Justice to immediately dismiss this case,” Palabay concluded.