27 September 2019
Mr. Nilo Penaflor
Senior Assistant Prosecutor
Office of the City Prosecutor, Quezon City
DOJ Building/Justice Cecilia Palma Building,
beside Hall of Justice, Quezon City Hall,
Elliptical Road, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Subject: Appeal to immediately dismiss all perjury charges against Karapatan, RMP and Gabriela
Honourable Justices, Honourable Secretary, and Senior Assistant Prosecutor,
The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) is a regional women’s rights organisation established in 1986, with over 230 members in 27 countries in the region. We are writing to urge your offices to dismiss all perjury charges lodged against KARAPATAN, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and GABRIELA, and to take decisive actions to ensure that Philippines civil society do not continually have to face these forms of judicial harassment.
We further urge granting of the petition for review filed by KARAPATAN, RMP and GABRIELA and granting their petition for the writ of amparo and habeas data, as well as recalling Executive Order No. 70 to create a national task force (NTF) to end local communist armed conflict and institutionalising the so-called whole of nation approach; to stop all activities emanating from this order, including the smear campaigns and judicial harassment against human rights activists.
The UN General Assembly Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted unanimously in 1998, clearly and unequivocally states:
‘Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice.’
The Declaration also recognises that, for ‘the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels’, which includes the ability to ‘form, join and participate in non-governmental organisations, associations or groups’ and to ‘communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations’. The rights of the individuals forming these three organisations are directly threatened by the lodging of these perjury charges, which can result in their unjustified arrest and other forms of persecution for their human rights activism.
KARAPATAN, GABRIELA and RMP are nationally, regionally and internationally recognised for their work. KARAPATAN has been active as a human rights organisation for 24 years, while GABRIELA has fought for 35 years for the promotion and defense of women’s rights, and RMP recently marked its 50th anniversary since its founding. Their work and record cannot be impugned: in more than a generation, they have collectively established schools, passed legislation, led rights-based campaigns and provided aid and support for victims of rights violations. Independent groups both within and outside of the Philippines, including APWLD, vouch for their work and urge your offices to immediately and without caveat dismiss these charges against them.
APWLD, as a membership-based organisation, acknowledges our longstanding associations particularly with Ms Cristina Palabay, Ms Elisa Tita Lubi (both of Karapatan) and Ms. Joan M Salvador (Gabriela). Ms. Palabay and Ms. Salvador currently serve on APWLD’s Regional Council (highest governing body) and we are alarmed that our members are subjected to these unfounded charges that threaten their safety. We are proud to have their leadership and that of their organisations over the years; and urge your offices to defend the fundamental rights of these courageous women human rights defenders and immediately drop all charges against them.
Should your offices have any inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our Chiang Mai secretariat via phone: (66) 53 284527, 284856.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
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