MANILA - An 80-year-old nun was indicted for perjury after she supposedly made untruthful statements in the writ of amparo petition that a rights group filed against the government.
The Quezon City Prosecutors' Office said Sister Elenita Belardo falsely claimed that the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Inc. (RMP), of which she is national coordinator, is a duly registered non-stock, non-profit organization, when its certificate of registration was revoked effective September 29, 2003.
Perjury cases against 11 other individuals were dismissed.
Belardo has since posted bail.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon was the complainant. He was named as respondent in the petition for writ of amparo (protection) and habeas data filed by rights group Karapatan, women's group Gabriela, and RMP.
In a statement, Karapatan said Esperon was behind "this political persecution against rights groups," and that because he "has no case" against the petitioners, "he has instead settled with targeting a single individual."
"We are with Sr. Elen throughout this result, and will continue to strongly assert that this trumped-up case is a form of reprisal against RMP's advocacy. Sr. Elen is not a perjurer nor a criminal, unlike Esperon who has been military chief under Gloria Arroyo and has been implicated in corruption charges and various rights violations," said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
The groups filed the petition for writ of amparo before the Supreme Court in May 2019, alleging they were "constantly threatened and harassed, red-tagged and maliciously terrorist-labeled only because of their advocacies in various fields of human rights work."