10 Red-front groups’ execs indicted for perjury

10 Red-front groups’ execs indicted for perjury

MANILA — The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has filed perjury charges against 10 other officials of organizations with long-standing links to the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

In a two-page resolution dated February 24, City Prosecutor Vimar Marcellano found “probable cause to indict” Cristina Palabay, Roneo Clamor, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Edita Burgos, Jose Mari Callueng, Wilfredo Ruazol, Elisa Tita Lubi, Emma Cupin, Gertrudes Ranjo Libang and Joan May Salvador.

The respondents named in the complaint filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. are officials of Gabriela, Karapatan and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) who allegedly lied under oath in the petition for writ of amparo and habeas corpus filed against the government, before the Court of Appeals (CA).

The petition for writ of amparo was subsequently dismissed by the appellate court in June last year.

“The issues upon which the charges are built pertain to factual matters that cannot be threshed out conclusively during the preliminary stage of the case. Precisely, there is a trial for the presentation of prosecution’s evidence in support of the charge.” Marcellano said in his order.

A bail of PHP18,000 for each of the respondents was recommended for their temporary liberty.

Meanwhile, the complaint filed against another respondent Reylan P. Vergara was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

The resolution granted a motion for reconsideration filed by Esperon of another prosecutor’s ruling late last year to charge only one individual, Elenita Belardo, national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).

During her arraignment last month, Belardo pleaded not guilty to the charge before Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 37 Judge Aimee Marie Alcera.

In an information dated Nov. 8, 2019, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Nilo Peñaflor ordered the filing of the charges against Belardo.

Peñaflor said Belardo “knowingly made untruthful statements under oath” when she said the RMP is a “duly registered non-stock, non-profit organization.”

“(I)n fact the accused very well knew that said allegations were false and untruthful as the certificate of registration of RMP was already revoked effective September 29,2003. At best, the aforesaid defense of good faith is purely evidentiary which may be threshed out in a full-blown trial,” he added.

Esperon alleged that the RMP collected donations from international organizations to run 55 Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (Salugpungan) whose operations were earlier ordered suspended by the Department of Education.

Citing reports of the military and police on the ground and the testimonies of the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Counsel elders and leaders, Esperon said there was an unmistakable pattern of training anti-government armed rebels by these schools.

Esperon, for instance, said these schools have a different “national” anthem which they teach to students. Students are also taught assembly and disassembly of firearms and learn the alphabets with different anti-government slogans starting with “A for armas (weapon)”.

Esperon said the schools do not issue credentials to students which would allow their wards to take further studies in government recognized schools.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.  Benjamin Pulta /PNA – northboundasia.com