DND eyes perjury raps vs 2 environmental activists accusing military of abduction

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — The Department of National Defense (DND) said it is considering filing perjury charges against two environmental activists who accused the military of abduction and coercion after going missing in Bataan.

“We are studying the possibility of filing perjury charges against them. Pagkatapos mabuo ng kaso, ifa-file namin sa appropriate authorities para ito ay maimbestigahan,” said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro on Wednesday during the plenary debates on DND’s proposed P232.2-billion budget for 2024.

[Translation: We are studying the possibility of filing perjury charges against them. After we complete it, we will file with the appropriate authorities to investigate it.]

“Sigurado ako takot itong mga bata na ito. Pero kanino takot?" Teodoro said. "Sa mga armed forces o sa mga nag-manipula sa kanila? Yan ang katanungan."

[Translation: I am sure the two are scared, but to whom are they scared? Is it the armed forces or is it to the people manipulating them? That’s the question.]

The defense chief disclosed there is enough evidence to discredit the claims of Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano.

He said the two activists signed affidavits with the assistance of the Public Attorney’s Office attesting to their surrender.

There were also witnesses who saw them give themselves up to the military, he also said.

“Hindi ako umaasa sa sole statement ng armed forces," Teodoro said. "Ang inaasahan ko yung katibayan na sumumpa ito sa harapan ng public attorney. May mga testigo pa raw na nandoon."

[Translation: I am not counting on the sole statement of the armed forces. What I expect is the evidence that they swore in front of the public attorney. There are even witnesses there."

Tedoro said Castro and Tamano might have changed their statements to humiliate the military, since they faced the media on the eve of plenary debates on the DND budget.

In a press conference organized on Tuesday by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Castro and Tamano claimed they were forced to ride a van by military personnel on Sept. 2 in Orion, Bataan.

The two said they signed the affidavits on their surrender under duress.

READ: Environmental activists released from gov't custody

Teodoro said the filing of perjury cases would serve as a lesson to individuals spreading misinformation.

“Ito maliwanag ang ebidensya na unfair ang pagparatang sa mga kasundaluhan dito," he said. "At gusto kong malaman kung sino ang promotor o utak nito para ma-file-an ng subornation of perjury charges at iba pa para magsilbing leksyon."

[Translation: This is clear evidence that the accusations against the military here are unfair. And I want to know who is the promoter or mastermind of this so that we can file a subornation of perjury charges and other cases to serve as a lesson.]