Child rights defender to appeal conviction

Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star
Child rights defender to appeal conviction
This photo shows the facade of the Court of Appeals.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of child and women’s rights advocate Sally Ujano will appeal the ruling of a Taguig court, which found her guilty of the crime of rebellion.

Finella Jocom, lawyer for Ujano, said they would appeal her conviction before the Court of Appeals (CA), adding that there is a possibility of a “mistrial.”

“Regarding the appeal on the merits of her conviction, we will refrain from making further comments out of profound respect for the integrity of the judicial process. But we may be looking at a mistrial here,” Jocom told The STAR.

Jocom explained that the Taguig regional trial court (RTC) admitted only two documentary pieces of evidence from the defense due to “mere technicalities.”

According to Jocom, the RTC also denied the motion filed by the defense, through Ujano’s lead counsel, seeking to include additional documentary evidence that was “crucial for Ujano’s defense and was discovered only after pre-trial.”

“Ujano’s rights include presenting evidence that will exonerate her from the rebellion charges file against her,” Jocom said.

“Unfortunately, some evidence, which was supposed to be presented by her legal counsel, was not admitted due to technicalities,” she added.

Last week, Taguig RTC Branch 266 convicted Ujano of rebellion.

Jocom stressed that the court found Ujano guilty of the crime of rebellion only as a “mere participant.”

She pointed out that the prosecution failed to establish that Ujano acted as a leader of the New People’s Army.

Jocom said they would also file a petition for bail before the appellate court, invoking humanitarian grounds.

Ujano, who was arrested in November 2021, was released on bail in December 2022.

During the promulgation last week, Ujano’s camp moved that her present bail bond be retained, arguing that she suffers from hypertensive cardiovascular disease and dyslipidemia.

The RTC, however, denied the defense’s motion as well as its request for reconsideration.

“So we will file a petition for bail with the CA, once again invoking these humanitarian grounds,” Jocom said.

According to previous reports, Ujano was arrested in November 2021 for alleged acts of rebellion committed in 2006.

Rights groups condemned the “unjust” arrest of Ujano, who was collared by police in plainclothes and reportedly did not show any identification.

Ujano served as the executive director of the Women’s Crisis Center from 2000 to 2007.

She has been the national coordinator of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking since 2008.

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