The Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC Coalition) condemns the arrest of its member from Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT), Maria Salome “Sally” Crisostomo-Ujano, at her residence in Malolos, Bulacan, last November 14, 2021, due to alleged “rebellion” in 2006.
As a representative of PACT in CRC Coalition, Sally is a respected child rights advocate who has been at the forefront of child rights work, specifically preventing child trafficking, child labor, and pornography since 2008. Prior to joining PACT, she served as the Executive Director of the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) from 1990-2007, managing cases of gender-based violence against women. Her more than 30 years of service in the development sector alongside government agencies, including the Philippine National Police and Department of Justice, shows that the allegation of “rebellion” against her is unfounded.
We strongly denounce the statement of Police Regional Office 3 labeling Sally as a criminal and that she has “eluded the arms of the law for more than 15 years” before her arrest. We have closely worked with Sally for many years, and she has been actively part of our Systems Working Group, which conducts monitoring activities to determine the situation of children on the ground. Various organizations, including us in CRC Coalition, have accurate documentation of her involvement in public activities, including those where representatives of the Philippine National Police, the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government, various local government units, and media were present. As a member of CRC Coalition, she led the 2017 Island Consultation conducted in Luzon to listen to children’s views and has been actively contributing to reports crafted by the Coalition submitted to International Reporting Mechanisms to uphold children’s rights.
We demand Sally’s immediate release from jail. We stand by Sally and vouch for her exceptional work to promote and protect the rights of Filipino children. An exceptional child’s rights and women’s rights leader should be recognized for her work and not be jailed for defending the marginalized. This incident is very alarming not just for children’s rights advocates but for all the human rights defenders in the country. We are together with other child rights advocates and women’s rights organizations in demanding an end to this injustice.
Link to the official Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/CRCCoalition/photos/a.602426953300475/1772667302943095