CORDILLERA leaders tagged as terrorists denounced the inclusion of their names and questioned the constitutionality of the petition filed by the Department of Justice.

Human rights lawyer Jose Mencio Molintas, former Asia representative to the United Nations-Expert mechanism on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (Emprip), said there is no basis for the government to accuse them as such.

“We are activists for the preservation of what is good with our cultural practices, and for the government branding us as member of the CPP-NPA has no basis,” Molintas said.

Molintas said they welcome the filing of the case as they challenge Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong to prove that they are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines or its armed wing, the New Peoples’ Army.

At least 600 individuals including UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo were included in the terrorist listing.

Joanna Cariño, member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance advisory council said the CPA is composed of 300 IP organizations and it is the biggest IP alliance in the region.

“The CPA exists to fight for ancestral land and self-determination of the IPs in the Cordillera. This is not terrorism, this is activism; activism is not terrorism,” said Carino.

“Noon may listahan ng Tokhang andami diyan pinatay ngayon sinasabi ng presidente pwede niyong patayin ang terrorist. Being on the list is also a threat to our security but we will not stop activism,” she said.

CPA chairperson Windel Bolinget described the filing of the case as widespread public terror saying the list is malicious and baseless adding the government are the ones creating terrorism. “They define terrorism sowing widespread terror panic and fear,” said Bolinget.

Other indigenes included in the terror list is Joan Carling, co-convenor of the IP Major Group on Sustainable Development, and Beverly Longid, global coordinator of the International IP Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation.

CPA noted a continuous support for the 31 IP human rights defenders in the country following the filing of the petition in court. The IP Major Group (IPMG) on the UN SDGs initiated an appeal to call for the delisting.

Some 93 solidarity statements and letters of concern were issued by 10 UN Agencies/Bodies including those relating to the IPs.

As of March 21, a total of 7,471 individuals from 113 countries have endorsed the appeal for support through the online petition and more individuals are signing up, the group said.