Dismissal of ‘false and malicious’ Esperon perjury rap sought by rights groups

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Dismissal of �false and malicious� Esperon perjury rap sought by rights groups
Rights groups on October 3 call for the dismissal of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s perjury case.
Karapatan, Release

MANILA, Philippines — Rights groups Karapatan, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) on Thursday filed a rejoinder to the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office in response to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s perjury case.

Seeking an outright dismissal of the complaint, the rights organizations’ move marks the last process before the case filed by Esperon is submitted for resolution to the prosecutor’s office.

Esperon’s complaint has no basis since the statement it provided was only directed against RMP, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

"[It] cited that RMP committed perjury because it allegedly made a false statement on the organization’s Securities and Exchange Commission registration...There are no direct claims against the other two organizations, but we will all face this together,” she said.

Esperon filed perjury charges against the rights groups in July after the latter submitted petitions for writ of amparo and habeas data at the Supreme Court in May.

The purpose of the petition, Karapatan said in a press release, was “to seek legal protection from threats and violence as human rights defenders and development workers.”

The Court of Appeals dismissed the writ of amparo and habeas data filed by these groups in June, saying it lacked evidence to prove the existence of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and other violations. 

"The writs cannot be issued on amorphous and uncertain grounds lest their purpose be undermined by the indiscriminate filing of petitions on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations," the ruling said.

Esperon claimed in July that the SEC had revoked RMP's Certificate of Registration in 2003. 

“[Dinemanda] nila ang president [President Rodrigo Duterte], ako and seven others eh di nakita na ang mga papel nila ay peke. That's clear perjury,” he told the media.

("They filed a complaint against the president [President Rodrigo Duterte], against me and seven others and they saw that their documents are fake. That's clear perjury.")

Esperon said in September that he would pursue the perjury complaint against the rights groups.

In response to Esperon’s complaint, RMP released a statement in July, attempting to clarify that they had no intent to falsify, manufacture, or misrepresent anything.

“As far as we know, we have filed for the renewal of our registration in 2010 and we have documents to prove that the SEC received them. From then on, we have [been] submitting our General Information Sheet (GIS) and audited Financial Statements (FS),” RMP national coordinator Elenita Belard said.

According to a SEC order dated 2016 that suspended the certificate of incorporation of 2009 registered corporations, RMP Northern Mindanao Sub-Region Inc. failed to submit their FS and GIS between 2010 to 2014.

Palabay maintained that the perjury case lacked legal basis and is also a deliberate and obvious attempt to silence human rights defenders.

“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,” Palabay said.

“We thus urge the Department of Justice to immediately dismiss this case.”

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