80-year-old nun faces arrest over perjury charges

80-year-old nun faces arrest over perjury charges

Sr. Elenita Belardo. PHOTO FROM RMP

By CBCP News

December 5, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A church group has condemned the impending arrest of an 80-year-old nun over a “perjury” case filed by national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office pursued the case against Sr. Elenita Belardo, leading to the issuance of a warrant for her arrest.

Sr. Belardo, a missionary from the Religious of the Good Shepherd, was one of the respondents of the case filed by Esperon last July.

After the preliminary investigation, the prosecutor’s office dismissed further trial for the majority of the respondents except for Sr. Belardo.

Alarmed over the development, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) has enjoined church people “to stand up” with Sr. Belardo.

“We ask for prayers of support and words of encouragement in this time of trial and tribulation,” the RMP said in a statement issued on Thursday.

The RMP, which was formerly headed by Sr. Belardo, claimed that Esperon’s charges are in “retaliation” to the petitions for writs of Amparo and habeas data filed by RMP and other groups last May.

“It is clear that this perjury case was filed against the petitioners to turn the discussion away from the real issue and as a reprisal to stop us from speaking about widespread human rights violations,” it added.

“Ultimately, we know that this is part of the efforts to discredit and vilify our organization and to impede our missionary work and advocacy for land, justice and peace,” the group said.

RMP was among the several groups, including some Catholic aid organizations, that were red-tagged by the military.

It called on the prosecutor’s office of the Justice department to “see the light” and drop this case against Sr. Belardo so that she can continue her ministry.

Sr. Belardo, the group said, spent most of her life working with the rural poor “as a testament of her love and commitment to Christ.”

In 2018, Australian nun Patricia Fox was deported from the Philippines after President Duterte accused her of political interference.

Church group laments gov’t harassment, intimidation

Sr. Elenita Belardo, National Coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. COURTESY OF RMP

By CBCP News

July 6, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A church organization has condemned continued “harassment” of dissenting groups and individuals by the government.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said that is the reason why they filed the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data “in the first place”.

“They’ve been spreading these lies. They’ve been red-tagging, harassing and threatening us,” said RMP National Coordinator Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS.

The group particularly lamented the perjury case lodged against them by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Esperon alleged that RMP and two other human rights groups issued false statements in their petition for a protection order against government harassment.

He also accused RMP of falsely claiming that it is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The church group said they have documents to prove that they are SEC registered.

“For NSA Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to claim that we have not is a blatant lie,” Belardo said.

“This perjury case against us and our co-petitioners aims to turn people’s attention away from the real issue,” she added.

The government has earlier accused RMP and several church groups as “fronts” of the communist underground movement.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines is a religious group that works with marginalized sectors in rural poor communities.

Among its members is Australian nun Patricia Fox who was deported by the Duterte government in November 2018 for her alleged involvement in “partisan political activities” in the country.