DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Progressive groups lambasted National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s for saying that they are lying to the public.

Esperon alleged that the rights group had been lying to the public about the legality of their activities in the country.

“For so long a time, many of these so-called cause-oriented organizations have deceived the public into believing that their actions, especially those that are directed against the government, had been legitimate,” Esperon said.

“Some, in fact, had misled foreign funding institutions into giving foreign grants and donations to support their supposed cause, but were instead diverted to the CPP/NPA/NDF in furtherance of the latter’s communist terrorist objectives”, he added.

Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan refute the claim of Esperon, “We stand by our attestation made in good faith and borne out of diligence that they are true and correct based on our own personal knowledge and/or based on authentic records. We do not have any intent to falsify, manufacture or misrepresent anything even on such microscopic technicalities and minute procedural points. The cynical claim of perjury by a national security adviser deflects on the more fundamental matters and transcendental issues in our petition.” she said.

“This is part and parcel of the attacks we face, aimed at discrediting our advocacy and invalidating the urgency of the pleas of the victims of human rights violations. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s actions show that this government is indeed hell-bent on silencing its critics using the entire extent of its resources and through deliberately magnifying technicalities to veer the conversation away from the core issue of state-sponsored attacks by the Duterte government,” she added

This comes after progressive groups filed a petition for writ of Amparo and habeas data before the Supreme Court last May. The petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court, citing that the petition and documents submitted did not fulfill the evidentiary standard to establish that petitioners’ right to life, liberty, security, and privacy were violated or threatened.

Last July 2, 2019, Secretary Esperon filed a complaint accusing the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) – an organization of religious and lay persons doing community-based activities – of issuing false statements in their writs of Amparo and habeas data petition against several government officials. Secretary Esperon said that, contrary to RMP’s claims that it is a duly registered organization, a certification issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission dated April 15, 2019 attested to the fact that the RMP’s Certificate of Registration was revoked on August 20, 2003, for its failure to submit the required General Information Sheets and Financial Statements from 1997 to 2002. The revocation took effect on September 29, 2003.

However, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), refuted the claims of Secretary Esperon.

“They’ve been spreading these lies. They’ve been red-tagging, harassing and threatening us. These are the reasons why we filed the petition for writ of Amparo and habeas data in the first place. Let’s not forget the real and bigger issue here. It’s about them attacking us for being vocal critics of the anti-people policies and programs of this government. It’s about them vilifying us for our missionary commitment to serve the rural poor that this government had neglected for too long.”, said Sr. Elenita Belardo, National Coordinator of the RMP.

“[The Supreme Court petition] is about their violations against our members and we want protection for [our members] from whatever harm they may inflict on us,”

“As far as we know, we have filed for the renewal of our registration in 2010 and we have documents to prove that the SEC received them. From then on, we have been submitting our General Information Sheet and Audited Financial Statements. For him to say that we have not is a blatant lie. We are in possession of the receiving copies of the documents we have filed, particularly in the last four years. We will consult with the SEC to find out what happened with the documents we have submitted,“ Sr. Elen said.

The RMP also condemned Esperon’s remarks that RMP is being “run by communists, facilitating “schools of the NPA” and that these are the schools of the Lumad where their youth are taught hate, hatred against the government.” (davaotoday.com)

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