THE freedom to speak truth to power is essential if we are to imagine and enact democracy.
When the very defenders and advocates of our collective civil, human, and political rights are themselves threatened and being attacked, we have to speak out. We have to fight back.
Today we stand in solidarity with filmmaker and visual artist Kiri Dalena, who along with her colleagues and co-officers from rights rights watchdog Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, is fighting back against a perjury case filed by National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. last July. Other respondents include human rights advocates Tinay Palabay, Jigs Clamor and Edita Burgos, mother of the forcibly disappeared activist Jonas Burgos.
The irony, impunity, and injustice of Esperon’s charges are not lost on us. Esperon charged Karapatan, Gabriela, and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) with perjury after they formally sought from the courts a petition of writ of amparo and habeas data: A legal remedy for persons whose right to life, liberty, and security is threatened.
This petition was sought from the courts because members of Karapatan, Gabriela, and RMP all around the country were being vilified, harassed, and killed by suspected state forces on a scale proximate to the years under Martial Law. They still are.
The charges filed by Esperon as NSA adviser are forms of reprisal, retaliation, intimidation, and harassment. These endanger and threaten the safety of human rights advocates and fellow cultural workers who have tirelessly spoken out against the killings, enforced disappearances, and repression of the administration.
There is no security in the silencing of voices speaking truth to power. Let us remain vigilant and active in condemning these acts of harassment and state insecurity.
No to the perjury charges against rights defenders!