Perjury raps filed vs. Reds-linked group exec

MANILA The Quezon City Prosecutor's Office has filed perjury charges against a key official of a group which the military alleged solicited foreign funding from international organizations to fund indoctrination recruitment schools run by the terrorist Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

In an information dated November 8, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Nilo PeAaflor ordered the filing of the charges against Sr. Elenita Belardo, the national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).

The perjury complaint had been filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. who claimed RMP officials along with others perjured themselves in the petition of amparo and habeas corpus filed against the government including Esperon before the Court of Appeals (CA).

The petition for amparo was subsequently dismissed by the appellate court.

The prosecutor said in the petition filed before the CA by known front groups of the terrorist CPP-NPA, Belardo "knowingly made untruthful statements under oath" when she said the RMP is a "duly registered non-stock, non-profit organization."

"(I)n fact the accused very well knew that said allegations were false and untruthful as the certificate of registration of RMP was already revoked effective September 29,2003," the prosecutor said.

"At best, the aforesaid defense of good faith is purely evidentiary which may be threshed out in a full-blown trial, he added.

He said he decided not to charge other members of other groups responsible since "although embodied in one petition (filed before the CA), (the other) respondents' overt acts of verifying the same are separate and distinct from one another and could certainly refer only to factual circumstances pertaining to the organization which said (other) respondents were representing."

Aside from RMP, charged were Joan May E. Salvador and Gertrudes Libang as representatives of Gabriela and Reylan Vergara, Cristina Palabay, Ronco Clamor, Edita Burgos, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Jose Marie Callueng and Wilfredo Ruazol of Karapatan.

During the proceedings before the prosecutor, the respondents claimed they were unaware of defects in the official papers of RMP and that they were unduly harassed by the government.

Esperon alleged the RMP collected donations from international organizations to run 55 Salugpungan Ta'tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (Salugpungan) whose operations were earlier ordered suspended by the Department of Education.

Citing reports of the military and police on the ground and the testimonies of the Mindanao Indigenous People's Counsel elders and leaders, Esperon said there was an unmistakable pattern of training anti-government armed rebels by these schools.

As an example, Esperon said these schools have a different "national" anthem which they teach to students.

Students are also taught assembly and disassembly of firearms and learn the alphabets with different anti-government slogans starting with "A for armas (weapon)".

Esperon said the schools do not issue credentials to students which would allow their wards to take further studies in government recognized schools.

The CPP-NPA has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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