Child rights advocate nabbed for rebellion

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:03 p.m., November 16) — An anti-child trafficking advocate was arrested in connection with a 15-year-old rebellion case in Malolos, Bulacan on Sunday.

Sally Crisostomo-Ujano, 64, was arrested by police intelligence officers and commandos from Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), according to Philippine National Police chief Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, who issued the statement during his first flag ceremony as PNP chief yesterday.

The arrest was based on a warrant issued by a Lucena City court in 2006, Carlos said.

Ujano, national coordinator of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking, was arrested by plainclothes officers, who reportedly did not show any identification card except for the arrest warrant dated Oct. 2, 2020, rights group Karapatan said.

Rights activists expressed belief the charges against Ujano were baseless and intended to harass advocates of human rights.

The PNP said the case stemmed from Ujano’s alleged involvement with the New People’s Army (NPA).

Carlos said records showed Ujano was involved in the “execution of NPA members suspected to be government spies.”

Groups including the Gabriela Party-list condemned the police for “commending themselves for the unjust arrest of Ujano by reviving an old, baseless charge.”

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said it was “audacious” of the PNP to label Ujano as a wanted person and rebel who had been eluding arrest for 15 years, when she has always been publicly active in efforts against child trafficking.

Rights groups are demanding Ujano’s release and accountability over her “wrongful arrest.”

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