THE Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA) has sent an open letter to Mountain Province after the group was declared persona non grata in the province.
Beverly Litdog Longid of the CPA advisory council said the organization wishes to take exception to the request of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Mountain Province director directed to the Municipal Mayor of Sagada to declare CPA as persona non-grata in the municipality.
“We hope that the DILG provincial director limited such directive to my hometown and not to all municipal mayors of Mountain Province. This request, we believe, is based on the unfounded branding of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance as a front organization of the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines), which puts in real danger the lives and safety of innocent civilians. A well-calculated but irresponsible ploy to make local government units active instruments for witch-hunting and red-tagging, which can promote polarization in our communities,” Longid said.
Longid appealed to carefully consider the far-reaching implications of the request to declare CPA and other progressive organizations persona non grata.
“Such declaration especially with the Terror Law certainly brings harm and danger to your anak, bebsat ya kailian, who are members of the CPA wherever we are. On unfounded accusations, shall you allow this to happen? We urge you to reject this request, an atmosphere of fear and suspicion is something we do not wish for our communities. We should object to anything that helps pave the way for arbitrary arrests and harassment of innocent civilians. The demonization of civic organizations and their advocates does not bode well for peace in our communities. It is a tactic that deserves the condemnation of all peace-loving citizens,” Longid said.
CPA said the move is meant to silence conscientious critics of questionable state policies and programs that all responsible citizens ought to be concerned about.
“We find it intended to vilify, if not criminalize, people of goodwill. People whose only intention is to urge public officials like you to address issues of corruption and put a stop to ill-conceived policies and programs. People who care for our environment and strive to develop people's livelihood. The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance and civic organizations that serve the people's interests are also watchdogs for good governance. We do not deserve the relentless assaults by the state on democratic dissent and human rights that have escalated in this time of the pandemic,” the letter stated.
The CPA added declaring open legal organizations persona non grata is a definite move that constricts the democratic space, denies people from expressing legitimate grievances without fear of repression and drives several individuals to adopt extreme measures to pursue their goals.
“We express our deep concern that in this time of the pandemic, we see the escalating and continuing attacks against progressive and militant organizations. We vehemently oppose the terror tagging of progressive organizations, especially the Cordillera People’s Alliance, and we urge our local government units to turn down the request to declare them persona non grata for the sake of peace,” Longid added.