National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. reiterated before Branch 139 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City on Wednesday that the filing of a criminal case against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) is aimed at uncovering and exposing the truth regarding the group’s “deceitful practices and conduc.”
Esperon who again appeared at the court before as a private complainant to the July 2019 perjury case he filed against Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. Sr. Elenita Belardo, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Edita Burgos, Jose Mari Callueng, Wilfredo Ruazol, Elisa Tita P. Lubi, Sr. Emma Cupin, Joan May Salvador, and Gertrudes Ranjo-Libang for executing sworn statements with the deliberate assertion of false facts.
The said Sworn Statements were made attachments to the Petition for the Writ of Amparo, which the RMP officials filed before the Supreme Court against some government officials. Notably, when the Petition for Writ of Amparo was remanded to the Court of Appeals for hearing, the appellate court dismissed the Petition for lack of merit.
Specifically, the accused attested to RMP being a duly registered organization and compliant with existing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines and regulations.
But Esperon showed in evidence a certification issued by the SEC, dated 15 April 2019, attesting to the fact that the RMP’s Certificate of Registration had already been revoked as early as of August 20, 2003 for its failure to submit the required General Information Sheets and Financial Statements from 1997 to 2002.
The revocation of RMP’s registration took effect on September 29, 2003, or more than sixteen years ago, which gave them enough time to have rectified the violation.
The respondents, Esperon said, are being tried for falsely testifying that the RMP’s Certificate of Registration was valid when, in fact, it had already been terminated.
Esperon explained that he intends to “bare the duplicity and fraud utilized by these groups to advance their agenda.” Not only are they in the practice of peddling their fabrications but, worse more so, they have been complicit in funding and supporting anti-government activities. To be specific, these self-styled “progressive groups” have been acting as financiers for the operation and maintenance of alternative learning systems, which, in reality, are nothing but operations to indoctrinate innocent youth while deceptively in their captivity in unlicensed schools, he explained.
Gathered intelligence reports from government investigators, Esperon said, indicate that CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNT)- CPP-NPA Affiliated Mass Organizations (CAMOs) have been funneling donations, both foreign and locally sourced, to alternative learning institutions, such as the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc., the Fr. Faustu Tentorio Memorial School Inc., the Mindanao Interfaith Services, Inc. (MISFI), and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (ALCADEV).
According to the NTF-ELCAC, around seventy-seven of these training, centers are unlawfully and illegitimately operated within the ancestral domains of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao. These Schools have been previously identified as child warrior training schools that seek to produce future CPP-NPA combatants, it added.
In late 2019, several of these training schools were ordered closed by the Department of Education after investigations. The students were then re-enrolled in nearby schools operated by the Department of Education.
As evidence of these heinous activities being conducted by CAMOs, the Anti-Money Laundering Council of the Philippines (AMLC), on December 26, 2019, issued a Freeze Order of Assets and Accounts against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. The accounts in question, amounting in total to P 14,745,194.42, were frozen owing to “probable cause that the BPI accounts of RMP are related to terrorism financing.”
Amid the numerous instances of suspicious and questionable activities being conducted by these progressive groups, Esperon is urging for the full force of the judicial system to be brought to bear against them. “For far too long, legal processes have been taken advantage of by these groups to provide them with succor and rescue. It is high time that the same exacting standards of law be made applicable to them.”
The Revised Penal Code then stated that the crime of perjury was punishable by Arresto Mayor in its maximum period (4 months and 1 day to 6 months) to Prision Correccional in its minimum period (6 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months). With the President’s signature into law of Republic Act No. 11594 on October 29, 2021, perjury is now punishable with Prision Mayor in its minimum period (from 6 years and 1 day to 8 years) to its medium period (from 8 years and 1 day to 10 years).
The enactment of the escalation of penalties for perjury serves to underscore the gravity of the offense of giving false statements under oath; thus, the higher penalties discourage the commission of perjury and bolsters attestants to be truthful in their statements.
With the nearing resolution of this case, Esperon hopes “that justice may prevail and the truth may finally be revealed. This case is an opportunity for Filipinos to be enlightened to the true nature of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) and their front organizations, as well as to unmask the use of propaganda, fabrication, and misinformation fundamental to the CTG movement.”