Global women’s group rallies behind PHL rights groups 

A GLOBAL organization for women’s rights urged Philippine courts to drop perjury charges against officers of local human rights group Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and Gabriela National Alliance of Women.  

In a statement dated June 20 and sent to reporters on Tuesday, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) said the government should stop any act of intimidation and harassment against women human rights defenders and political activists.  

“These charges against Karapatan national officers, RMP, and Gabriela are part of ongoing systemic attacks against WHRDs (women human rights defenders) in the Philippines,” it said, noting that Karapatan Secretary General Cristina E. Palabay was scheduled to testify before a Quezon City court this week.  

Karapatan and RMP earlier filed complaints with the Commission on Human Rights against the government’s anti-communist task force for continuously labeling activists and groups as communists or terrorists. 

The country’s national security adviser had filed perjury charges against the rights group officers, citing that they committed the offense when they said in a separate petition that RMP was “duly registered as a non-stock, non-profit corporation under Philippine laws.”   

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor on Saturday also called on authorities to drop the perjury charges.  

“I urge the authorities in the Philippines to stop the targeting of human rights defenders, and instead promote and protect their work,” she said in a statement dated June 18.    

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said last week that the country’s anti-communist task force, of which he is a member, should file complaints rather than simply tagging people as communists.  

Lorraine Marie T. Badoy, the task force’s spokesperson, said they did not agree with the Justice chief’s statement, citing the need to identify members of communist groups and their armed and political wings. — John Victor D. Ordoñez 

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