Philippines: Judicial harassment against ten members of Karapatan


Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, 


Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines,

 Fax: +632 929 0102, 


Dear Jose Luis Martin Gascon, 

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights activist and Freelance Journalist. 

The Observatory has informed me that they have 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, andMr.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 concerning 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.


I recall 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.


I express my utmost concern over the judicial harassment of the ten defenders as mentioned above as it seems to be retaliation against them for trying to seek legal protection and to the only aim at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.


Actions requested:

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 those mentioned above ten human rights defenders as well as all other human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they can 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 by international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.


William Nicholas Gomes,

Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist

York, United Kingdom



Cite this: Gomes, W. (2020). Philippines: Judicial harassment against ten members of Karapatan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2020].

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