A Quezon City court has upheld a perjury case filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon last year against a militant group with alleged links to communist terror groups.
The court action came by way of its dismissal of a petition the militant group sought to Quash the perjury charges filed by Esperon.
In an order dated 19 March 2021, QC Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Eleuterio Bathan dismissed the Petition for Certiorari filed by accused Cristina Palabay, Elisa Tita Lubi, Roneo Clamor, Edita Burgos, Wilfredo Ruazol, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Jose Marie Callueng, Gertrudes Ranjo-Libang, and Joan May Salvador, officials of Gabriela, Karapatan, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), along with their Motion for Reconsideration which sought the reversal of the earlier order of the judge denying their application for a writ of the preliminary injunction.
“The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) lauds the efforts of its Legal Cooperation Cluster in bringing forth accountability and justice against the CTGs and their allies. The continuing defeat of these organizations in the sphere of due process affirms our principle that we are a nation of laws, and shall remain to be,” said lawyer Marlon P. Bosantog, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Legal Affairs and Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns.
“This defeat then will hasten the resolution of the perjury case against these individuals who tried to lie and cheat their way in our judicial system,” Bosantog added.
Bosantog pointed out that “as their MO (modus operandi), it is expected that CTG spokepersons will vilify and condemn the ruling of the Honorable Court, but our Courts have been steadfast and resolute in affirming their mandate and independence so that even their allies now hardly believe their own repeated lies.”
In May last year, the accused filed a petition for the issuance of Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data with the Court of Appeals (CA) against President Rodrigo Duterte and several military and government officials, including Esperon, as well as members of the NTF-ELCAC, for alleged red-tagging and human rights violations. The petition was subsequently dismissed by the CA.
Esperon thereafter filed criminal cases for perjury against the militant group, alleging that they knowingly made untruthful statements under oath when they claimed in the CA petition that RMP was a “duly registered non-stock, non-profit organization” when in fact its certificate of registration has long been revoked by the Securities and Exchange Commission since September 29, 2003.
The perjury case was raffled to Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Aimee Marie Alcera. Represented by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Ephraim Cortez and Josalee Deinla, the militant group immediately sought the dismissal of the perjury case by filing a motion to quash the information.
Judge Alcera denied the motion to quash and continued hearing the case, prompting the accused to file a petition for certiorari with the QC RTC questioning the denial of their motion on the ground of alleged grave abuse of discretion. The case landed in the sala of Judge Bathan. The group also prayed for the court to issue an injunctive writ in order to suspend the proceedings in the perjury case, but was also denied by Judge Bathan for failing to substantiate the same.
In a separate press statement, the NTF-ELCAC’s Legal Cooperation Cluster (LCC), said that Judge Bathan’s decision “puts a final stamp against the NUPL’s redundant attempts to delay justice” and “reinforces the strength of the People’s case against” the group “who all lied under oath.”
“Now the cogwheels of justice shall once again run their course against the accused. And, sure as the sun will rise, justice shall prevail,” the LCC added.
Meanwhile, the assets and bank deposits of the RMP, the organization where some of the accused belong, were the subject of a Freeze Order under the predicate crime of Terrorism Financing. RMP acted as the financial conduit of the network of ‘Salugpungan’ Schools in Mindanao and were later found to be indoctrination and training grounds of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), a declared terrorist organization.
RMP’s assets were similarly put under an Asset Prevention Order from the RTC of Manila for possible violation of the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.