The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has started it own inquiry into the arrest last Nov. 14 of a women and children’s rights activist on the basis of a warrant issued 15 years ago.
On top of probing the arrest of 62-year-old Maria Salome “Sally” Crisostomo Ujano, the CHR has also been monitoring her situation in Camp Crame in Quezon City where she is detained.
Published reports stated that Ujano was arrested by policemen in Barangay Mabolo in Malolos City in Bulacan on the basis of an arrest order for “rebellion” issued by city’s regional trial court (RTC) Judge Virgilio Alpajora.
“We raise concern over the propriety of the use of a 15-year-old warrant of arrest in order to hold in custody a 62-year-old women human rights defender,” said CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit.
“The CHR’s National Capital Region office is currently investigating the case and closely monitoring Sally’s situation in detention,” Dumpit said.
Dumpit also refuted allegations that Ujano has been hiding from authorities.
She said Ujano represented civil society groups in various government programs including the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
“Ujano worked with various agencies including the Philippine Commission on Women and even with the Philippine National Police since 2004 when she was with the Women’s Crisis Center,” she added.
“Just this year, CHR has participated in the joint program of PACT (Philippines Against Child Trafficking) and the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) in implementing the Safe Spaces Act (Republic Act No. 11313) in select educational institutions and local government unit,” she also said.
Dumpit vouched for the credibility of Ujano as she pointed out that she is a “recognized ally of government in combatting trafficking of women and girls, in the promotion of reproductive health services, and in addressing violence against women.”
She lamented that the arrest of Ujano and the continuing arrests of other human rights defenders “are seen by the human rights community as attacks against the right to organize, freedom of expression, and the right to defend rights.
“This recent arrest has the effect of silencing human rights advocates especially women’s and children’s human rights defenders, contributing to the shrinking civic space in the country,” she stressed.