Karapatan chairperson, former RMP coordinator file comments vs Esperon petition

Two human rights defenders scored former National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. for attempting to violate their right against double jeopardy by calling on the Regional Trial Court to reverse their acquittal for perjury last January 2023.

Elisa Tita Lubi, chairperson of human rights alliance Karapatan, and Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) were among ten human rights defenders who were acquitted after a three-year trial for perjury before Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 139 Presiding Judge Aimee Marie B. Alcera.

The perjury case had been filed in retaliation by Esperon in 2019 after he was impleaded in a petition for a writ of amparo by the respondents due to growing attacks against human rights defenders. After the perjury case was dismissed, however, Esperon followed up through a petition for certiorari, asking the Regional Trial Court to review the case documents and charging Judge Alcera of “grave abuse of discretion.”

In their comment to the petition, Lubi and Abelardo slammed Esperon, saying his petition is actually an appeal of the decision of acquittal labeled as a petition for certiorari. “As such,” said the respondents, “the petition must be dismissed outright for violating the respondents’ right against double jeopardy” (or being tried for the same offense twice).

The respondents also noted that Esperon’s petition does not contain a single factual allegation of grave abuse of power.

Lubi and Abelardo’s comments to Esperon’s petition follows the comments submitted earlier by eight other respondents, all members of Karapatan’s national council—Cristina Palabay, Roneo Clamor, Elenita Burgos, Wilfredo Ruazol, Jose Mari Callueng and Gabriela Krista Dalena.

Esperon’s petition is now pending before Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 84 under Presiding Judge Luisito Galvez Cortez, who has scheduled a hearing on August 29.

*Copy of the joint comment are available upon request.