Petition of certiorari filed to question malicious perjury charges vs Karapatan et. al.

As the leaders of Karapatan, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) face arraignment proceedings today, November 9, on the perjury charges filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, one of the respondents in the case, asserted that the charges were “unmistakably and clearly a form of reprisal ironically based on poorly-concocted lies meant to discredit our human rights work.”

“Human rights defenders and activists like us are being openly threatened on a daily basis, and our lives, liberty, and security are being put at grave risks by these threats. Our colleagues are being killed one after the other, and we are being told to refer to legal remedies to demand protection and justice — but what are the courts doing? They are denying our pleas for timely and relevant protection. The legal system is being weaponized to go after us for the very fact that we sought legal protection. They are letting not only injustice continue but a murderous rampage targeting us for our work,” Palabay asked.

Esperon’s perjury case — which was filed in response to the three organizations’ petition for the writs of amparo and habeas data before the Supreme Court — was already initially dismissed for 11 of the respondents in a November 8, 2019 resolution by Quezon City Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Nilo Peñaflor for “lack of probable cause and/or insufficiency of evidence,” while the case proceeded to be filed against former RMP National Coordinator Sr. Elenita Belardo. Following Esperon’s filing of a motion for reconsideration, the case was revived against 10 of the respondents in the case. Most of the respondents posted bail last March 3 as others followed suit.

Last July 15, the respondents filed a joint motion to quash information and defer the arraignment before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 139. The court’s presiding judge Aimee Marie Alcera denied the motion in an order dated September 3. On September 30, Karapatan leaders filed a motion for reconsideration which was likewise denied by the same court in an October 12 order. As the arraignment proceeded today, the respondents have filed before the court a petition for certiorari seeking to annul the September 3 and October 12 orders and move for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to inhibit the court from conducting further trial of the case until the petition is resolved.

“This is nothing more than a baseless, retaliatory suit of Esperon and his fellow militarist sycophants National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that should be dismissed and should not have reached the courts in the first place. We urge the court to grant our petition for certiorari and to stand with truth, justice, and the people. The Duterte administration can bend, break, and twist the laws and everything up its arsenal to harass us, but we will not stop in conducting human rights work and in exercising the people’s right to defend human rights,” the Karapatan officer ended.