Gov’t urged to drop terrorist tag against Cordillerans

BONTOC, Mountain Province  – The provincial board passed a resolution requesting the government, through the Department of Justice, to drop from its terrorist list the names of individuals who are from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) because they are not actually terrorist but instead human rights advocates.

Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR and Boardmember Tomas  B. Tawagen, Sr. underscored that the 7 personalities from the Cordillera who had been alleged to be members and officers of the Communist  Party of the  Philippines  –  New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) are false  and fabricated as they are IP activists belonging to legitimate organizations.

He added that in their lifetime as activists in defense of the cause of Filipino indigenous peoples (IPs), none of them received convictions from any court of law of sympathizing to the cause of the CPP-NPA nor have violated any provisions of the fundamental law of the land.

Tawagen claimed that the 7 Cordillerans included in the government’s terrorist list are known to him as friends and as partners in the quest to advance the cause of IPs in the country and that they are law abiding citizens.

“The inclusion of the said individuals in the terrorist proscription list may cause concerns for their safety as well as the safety of their families,” Tawagen stressed.

Earlier, the Department of Justice, in its proscription to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, included five constituents of Mountain Province and 2 constituents of Benguet among more than 600 other individuals in the said list.

Among the Cordillerans who were tagged as terrorists were Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Beverly L.  Longid, Windel Bolinget, Joan Carling, Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, Joana Kintanar-Carino and Atty. Jose Mencio Molintas.

The  resolution stated that the people and officialdom of Mountain Province express great concern by the tagging of the said individuals as terrorists considering that they are IPs by virtue of genealogy and affinity from Mountain Province and Benguet.

According to the resolution, the said individuals are known by the IP communities as responsible and dedicated IP rights advocates who have been mistakenly included in the list due to their involvement in peaceful initiatives for the upliftment of the wellbeing of IPs in their respective places.

Tauli is currently the United Nations (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and former chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA); Longid is the current  Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation, former chairperson and current Advisory Council Member ; Joan Carling is the current member and co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, former Secretary-General of the ASEAN Indigenous peoples Pact and former member of the Un Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues; Ribaya-Cawiding is the former chairperson of the CPA-Tongtongan ti Umili and current regional coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Cordillera; Bolinget is the current  chairperson of the CPA and national co-convenor of KATRIBO Nati9onal Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines; Carino is the former chairperson of the CPA; and Molintas is a known human rights lawyer. By HENT

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