Removal of terrorist tag on Cordillerans sought

BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved a resolution requesting the Philippine government to drop the terrorist tag against supposed human rights defenders who are residents of the city.

The resolution authored by all members of the local legislative body stated that some individuals who are residents of the city and were included under the government’s terrorist tag never join the revolutionary groups but are passionate and active in their advocacy on human rights and the indigenous peoples rights both locally and internationally.

“There inclusion in the terrorist list of the government did not only violate legal processes but now pose a threat to their lives and that of their friends and families,” the resolution stressed.

It added the United Nations (UN), particularly Special Raporteur Michel Forst on the situation of human rights defenders and Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the chair of the Committee on Special Procedures and other International Organizations, urged the Philippine government to drop the terror tag on the identified human rights defenders as it is an unacceptable attack and an act of retaliation by the administration.

Earlier, several residents of the city who are advocates of indigenous peoples rights were included in the 600 individuals, who were branded as terrorists by the present administration.

Among the local residents who were included in the terrorist tag were Victoria Tauli-Corpus, a Kankana-ey from Besao, Mountain Province, chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous peoples from 2005-2010 and presently the UN Special Raporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Joan Carling, a Kankana-ey from Sagada, Mountain Province, a former Secretary-General of the Thailand-based Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact and a co-convenor of the indigenous peoples major group on sustainable development; Beverly Longid, a Kankana-ey from Sagada, Mountain Province, a former nominee of the KATRIBU party-list and presently the global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement  for Self-Determination and Liberation; Atty. Jose M. Molintas, an Ibaloi human rights lawyer and a former member of the UN Experts Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Wendel Bolinget, a Kankana-ey-Bontoc of Mountain Province, a former chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and regular participant to the UN Permanent Forum on IP Issues; Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, a Kankana-ey from Besao, Mountain Province, former chairman of Tongtongan ti Umili and who is active in non-government organization work in the city and Joanna Cariño, Ibaloi kin of Mateo Cariño, a member of the CPA Advisory Council and a co-chairperson of Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination.

The justice department tagged some 600 individuals as terrorists claiming they are members or supporters of the revolutionary organizations, Communist Party of the Philippines – and New Peoples Army which is in relation to their application to declare the said group as terrorist organization.

The resolution will be forwarded to the Office of the President, the Department of National Defense, the Department of Justice and other concerned offices of the national government for their information and appropriate action in the future.

By Dexter A. See

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