March 6, 2020
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by Karapatan - the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights - about the judicial harassment against ten members of Karapatan, the church-based Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and the women’s rights organisation Gabriela, namely: Ms. Elisa Tita Lubi, Karapatan Chairperson; Ms. Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General; Mr. Roneo Clamor, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General; Ms. Gabriela Grista Dalena, Karapatan Treasurer; Ms. Edita Burgos, Mr. Wilfredo Ruazol, and Mr. Jose Mari Callueng, Karapatan National Council members; Ms. Gertrudes Ranjo Libang, Gabriela Chairperson; Ms. Joan May Salvador, Gabriela Secretary General; and Ms. Emma Cupin, RMP member.
According to the information received, on February 24, 2020, Quezon City Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano granted a motion for reconsideration filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon with regard to a perjury complaint he lodged on July 2, 2019 against the ten leaders of Karapatan, RMP, and Gabriela. The complaint had been initially dismissed for “lack of probable cause and/or insufficiency of evidence”.
Mr. Esperon alleged that the ten defendants committed perjury by stating that the RMP was a registered non-governmental organisation at the Securities and Exchange Commission in a petition for a writ of amparo (protection order) and habeas data (access to information) filed by Karapatan, RMP, and Gabriela before the Supreme Court in May 2019, with the aim to seek legal protection against threats and harassment by government officials. The Philippine Court of Appeals denied the petition in June 2019.
On March 3, 2020, nine out of the ten defenders posted bail before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 37, while Ms. Palabay will post bail upon her return from Geneva, Switzerland, where she is currently conducting advocacy work at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Observatory recalls that since President Duterte took power in June 2016, human rights defenders have faced relentless vilification and red-tagging, and have been repeatedly subjected to trumped-up charges and lengthy pre-trial arbitrary detention, with the aim to discredit their legitimate work and to silence all critical voices.
The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the judicial harassment of the ten above-mentioned defenders as it seems to be retaliation against them for trying to seek legal protection and to only aim at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.
Please write to the authorities in the Philippines, urging them to:
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;
ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against the above-mentioned ten human rights defenders as well as all other human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.
· Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: +632 742-1641 / 929-3968 / +632 87368621, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com or send a message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
· Mr. Teodoro Locsin Jr, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Hon. Eduardo Aňo, Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Fax: +632 89250332; Email: email@example.com
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Fax: +632 929 0102, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Police General Oscar Albayalde, Chief, Philippine National Police, National Headquarters Building, Camp BGen Rafael Crame, Quezon City, 1111 Philippines. Fax: +632 724 8749 Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 02 345 64 25, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines located in your country.
Geneva-Paris, March 6, 2020
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 Plaintiffs in the said petition were President Rodrigo Duterte, Gen. (Ret.) Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Brig. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, Maj. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri, Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto, Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Alex Paul Monteagudo, Vicente Agdamag, Senior Supt. Omega Jireh Fidel, and Undersecretaries Joel Sy Egco, Severo Catura and Lorraine Marie Badoy.
 For more information, see Observatory Press Release, May 24, 2019 and Observation Mission Report, I’ll kill you along with drug addicts - President Duterte’s war on human rights defenders in the Philippines, February 28, 2019.