Human rights group Karapatan called for the immediate release of child rights advocate Maria Salome Crisostomo-Ujano who was arrested by the police in Malolos, Bulacan, on Sunday, November 14.
The group described Ujano’s arrest as “an attack on women and children’s rights advocates” and only proves that Philippines has become “a dangerous place for dissenters and rights defenders, including women’s and child rights advocates.”
Ujano, 64, was arrested in her home in Bulacan by men in civilian clothes with no identification papers, said Karapatan in a statement.
Police, however, refused to provide more details about Crisostomo-Ujano’s arrest, but according to a police report, the warrant of arrest was for rebellion and was issued by Hon. Virgilio Alfajora of Lucena City Regional Trial Court Branch 59 on June 28, 2006.
In a statement, the Central Luzon Police called Crisostomo-Ujano one of the country’s top most wanted persons “who had been in hiding for 15 years.”
In a statement, the Philippines Against Child Trafficking, which Ujano currently heads, decried her arrest, calling the rebellion charges “trumped up” and “ridiculous.”
The group said Ujano has been the coordinator of the organization since 2008, “and before that, was the executive director of the Women’s Crisis Center where she worked from 1990 to 2007.”
The group said she was also in the public eye for her work on protecting children and women from human trafficking and domestic violence for the last three decades.
“Nothing is more audacious than the [police] commending themselves for the unjust arrest of Ujano by reviving an old baseless charge, and labelling her as a most wanted person who has eluded arrest for 15 years,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
She said the various organizations that Ujano has worked for the last two decades attest that she has been active and present in the public eye all these years. “The PNP is making an utter lie to justify her unjust arrest,” said Palabay.