(image courtesy of Free Sally Ujano Facebook Page)

The camp of child and women’s rights advocate, Ma. Salome “Sally” Ujano filed a motion to quash the rebellion charges filed against her before her supposed arraignment today.

“Nagulat kami at na-shock doon sa mga nangyari kay Mama. Hindi namin inaasahan. Simpleng mamamayan lamang kami na nagtatrabaho para sa bayan (We were surprised and shocked by what happened to Mama. We did not expect this. We are simple citizens working for the country),” Klaro Ujano, Ujano’s son, said at the press briefing.

He said they are working for his mother’s immediate release since she is a senior citizen with ailments.

The arraignment, originally scheduled today, was reset to December 14 pending resolution of the motion to quash.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested Ujano on Nov.14 in Barangay Mabolo in Malolos City, Bulacan through a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Virgilio Alpajora of the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 in Lucena City on rebellion charges filed against her in 2006.

Ujano is currently detained in the quarantine facility of the Taguig City Jail – Female Dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig.

Newly appointed PNP chief, PGen Dionardo Carlos, lauded Ujano’s arrest which stemmed from her alleged involvement as a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the ambush of two military personnel in Quezon Province in 2005.

“Sobrang lungkot ng buo naming pamilya. Nandon ang pangamba (na) baka kung anong mangyari sa kanya. Umaasa kami na sana maliwanagan ang isip ng mga magde-desisyon at sana mapalaya agad ang Ate Sally (Our family is deeply saddened. We are worried about what might happen to her. We are hopeful that those who will make the decisions will be enlightened and that Sally will be immediately freed),” shared Boyet Crisostomo, Ujano’s brother.

The PNP chief also alleged that Ujano had been in hiding for 15 years which her family denies.

Her family and supporters say Ujano has been “very much in the public eye working to end trafficking of women and girls in the country and providing assistance and counseling to survivors of domestic violence.”

“As executive director of Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) and later national coordinator of Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT), she collaborated closely with the PNP and other government agencies in establishing a rights-based approach in handling trafficking cases. It makes no sense for someone who is supposed to have committed a crime and who is supposed to be in hiding to do this,” her family said in a statement.

Ujano was executive director of WCC in 2000 to 2007, and national coordinator of PACT from 2008 up to the present.

“Hindi po kaaway ng estado si Sally Ujano, bagkus, siya ay kasangga nito sa pag-protekta at pagtatanggol sa mga karapatan ng mga kababaihan at mga bata (Sally is not an enemy of the State, instead, she is its partner in protecting and defending the rights of women and children),” said Amihan Abueva, regional executive director of Child Rights Coalition Asia, reading a statement from the family and friends of Ujano during a virtual presser Monday.

“Sally’s contribution to the women’s movement and child rights advocacy are invaluable. Napakasakit isipin na kung sino pa ang mas may ambag sa lipunan at sa ating bansa ay siya pang pinaparatangan nang walang pakundangan at ebidensiya (It is deeply painful that she who has contributed immensely to society and our country is the one being arbitrarily accused without evidence),” Abueva said.

Musicians for Democracy, various human rights groups and the family and friends of Ujano staged a virtual concert and prayer vigil on Monday dubbed “Awit at Dasal para sa Kalayaan”, which was streamed on the Free Sally Ujano campaign Facebook page. – Rommel F. Lopez