Group bares harassment to local activists

THREATS to advocates and activists in Baguio City were presented to the city’s seat of power to seek action and protection.

Tongtongan ti Umili (TTU) in a letter to Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong detailed cases of human rights violations and harassment starting 2017 to the present.

The TTU with the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili iti Siyudad (ORNUS), Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kabataan Partylist Cordillera, Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera asked Magalong to possibly pass an executive order against the political vilification of activists and mark the Human Rights Defenders Protection ordinance as an urgent legislative measure as well as help ensure physical safety of human rights defenders, and abide by state obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to justice, freedom of expression and of association.

At least seven cases of harassment were cited by the group since 2017. Among the cases included the arrest of Sarah Abellon – Alikes in February February 2017. Abellon – Alikes, of the Regional Development Center – Katinnulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan (RDC-Kaduami) was arrested by soldiers last February 9 and was detained for two days without charges.

It was only on February 11 that she was charged with arson and robbery and was released after posting bail.

On February 2018, in a move to bar the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations, the Department of Justice filed a petition at a regional court in Manila February 21, 2018.

The petition includes a list of 657 persons alleged to be officers and members of the CPP-NPA including at least 30 indigenous people (IP) activists among whom are United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) chairperson Windel Bolinget, UN 2018 Champions of the Earth Awardee Joan Carling, Sandugo Co-convenor Joanna Cariño, International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) global coordinator Beverly Longid, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Cordillera coordinator Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding.

On August 9, 2019, a student-leader from University of the Philippines-Baguio, who refuses to be identified, received a death threat through a text message by an unknown number.

The message says "Susunod ka na, itigil mo na yang pangrerekrut nyo. Walang kinabukasan ang kabataan sa komunistang NPA."

(You will be killed next, stop your recruitment. The youth have no future in joining the communist NPA.)

Several student leaders also received a note on a piece of paper at the front door of their office stating their names and a message that goes, “Lahat kayo lider-estudyante o lider ng mga terorista. Mag-ingat na kayo.” (All of you, student-leaders of the terrorists, be careful.)

On November 5, during the House Committee hearing on the AFP Modernization Program, Major General Reuben Basiao presented a list of alleged communist terrorist fronts.

Several organizations based in Baguio City and are operating in the region are included in the list despite being legitimate organizations serving of the interest of the marginalized in the Cordillera.

These include CPA, Katinnulong Daguiti Umili ti Amanian (Kaduami), Cordillera Indigenous Peoples’ Law Center (Dinteg), and other local chapters of national organizations such as Gabriela Women’s Party.


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