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Senator calls for probe into arrest of elderly child rights advocate

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Senator calls for probe into arrest of elderly child rights advocate
Photo shows rights activist Maria Salome Crisostomo-Ujano, the national coordinator of Philippines Against Child Trafficking.
Karla Ujano on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is urging the government to conduct an immediate and thorough inquiry into the arrest of anti-child trafficking activist Maria Salome "Sally" Crisostomo-Ujano by police over a 15-year-old rebellion case. 

Sally Crisostomo-Ujano, 64, was arrested by police intelligence officers and commandos from Central Luzon and Calabarzon, according to Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, the new chief of the Philippine National Police. 

Rights group Karapatan said Ujano, national coordinator of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking, was arrested by police in plain clothes and who reportedly did not show any identification. 

INTERAKSYON: ‘Grave blunder’: Group calls to free detained elderly child rights advocate

"I join other advocates against human trafficking and human rights defenders in calling for the observance of due process and respect for the rights of Ms. Sally Crisostomo-Ujano," De Lima, who is seeking reelection, said. "I likewise call for an immediate investigation into the legality and circumstances of her arrest." 

The former justice secretary added that since Ujano "has not made any effort to hide or obscure her identity, authorities have to give her the benefit of the doubt, and release her while all this is being sorted out." 

For De Lima, the PNP regional office's claim that Ujano is one of the "country's top most wanted" persons only highlighted holes in the capability for investigation, tracking and coordination of the country's law enforcement authorities.

"I was shown photos of her with government agencies, even members of the PNP, in campaigns against human trafficking," she said."How can she be a most wanted person and in hiding when she has been publicly advocating for women's and children's rights, for the last two decades?" 

"If someone who has lived a very public life, has a Facebook account, has made no efforts to obscure her identity and, instead, has been working publicly with law enforcement agencies in combating human trafficking, can be considered a 'Most Wanted Person' by the PNP, then there is something deeply and disturbingly wrong with the PNP."  — Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from Franco Luna

PNP

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