Acquittal of human rights defenders in the Philippines
ESCR-Net - International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights celebrates the acquittal of members of Karapatan, - the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights - and their allies GABRIELA - National Alliance of Women - and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in the face of the perjury charges brought against them by the Philippine authorities.
On January 9, 2023, the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 139 issued its judgment on the retaliatory and trumped-up perjury case against ten human rights defenders, Karapatan Chairperson, Elisa Tita Lubi; Karapatan Secretary General, Cristina “Tinay” Palabay; Karapatan Deputy Secretary General, Roneo Clamor; Karapatan Treasurer, Gabriela Grista Dalena; Karapatan National Council members, Edita Burgos, Wilfredo Ruazol, and Jose Mari Callueng; GABRIELA Chairperson, Gertrudes Ranjo Libang; GABRIELA Secretary General, Joan May Salvador, and member of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Emma Cupin, acquitting them of all charges.
In a case of judicial harassment, which started in July 2019, the then-National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. submitted a perjury complaint against the three organizations related to the registration of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. Although the case was initially dismissed for lack of probable cause and sufficient evidence, in February 2020 the Quezon City Prosecutor, Vimar Barcellano, granted a motion for reconsideration of the perjury case.
The judicial harassment resulted in global condemnation from civil society, Members of the European Parliament and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders calling on the Philippine authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment faced by the ten human rights defenders and the wider human rights movement in the country.
While we celebrate the acquittal, we remain as committed as ever to stand in solidarity with members and the wider human rights community in the Philippines in their struggles to advance human rights and social justice for all.