A VICTORY for the highlands marked International Indigenous People (IP) day.
Courts cleared human rights and IP advocate Jose “JoMol” Molintas and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the government imposed terrorist tag.
“As we celebrate today the International Indigenous Peoples Day and the court pronouncement that we are non-parties to the case, we call on all Indigenous Peoples to continue our struggle against oppression and discrimination being applied by the state against us,” Molintas in a statement
Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar cleared both highlanders of the terrorist tag the Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed months ago.
Previously, the government through the DOJ filed a petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP NPA) as terrorist organizations under the Human Security Act.
The DOJ then moved to list over 600 names alleged to be officers and members of the CPP/NPA.
With JoMol and Corpuz, included in the list from the region were Joan Carling, a Kankanaey from Sagada, former CPA chairperson, and former Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) secretary-general; Beverly Longid, a Bontok-Kankanaey activist from Cordillera, and the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) global coordinator, and Katribu International Solidarity officer.
Joanna Cariño, an Ibaloi elder and activist, Sandugo co-chairperson; Windel Bolinget, a Bontok-Kankanaey, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Chairperson and Jeanette Ribaya Cawiding, a Kankaney from Besao Mountain Province and former chairman of Tontongan Ti Umili.
“We welcome the resolution granting the motion to be cleared from the list of alleged members of the CPP/NPA. In particular, we from the Cordilleras who had been advocating for Indigenous Peoples Rights up to the United Nations consider the petition as pure harassment by the State,” Molintas added.
Corpuz is the first woman and indigenous person from the Philippines to hold the post of UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples while JoMol is a known human rights and IP rights advocate who served for the UN.
An outpour of support was given to the Cordillerans in the terror list of the DOJ crafting condemnation letters and statements of support, local government units likewise called for the DOJ to drop the terrorist tag backed by the Regional Development Council.
However, it was only JoMol and Corpuz who asked the courts to drop the tag, submitting their plea in April with a hearing done in July.
“We call on the IP’s to continue to struggle against repression and discrimination committed by the State,” JoMol added.