In a statement of “deep concern” over the alleged terrorist list filed in court by the Department of Justice (DoJ), the Council of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) urged the DoJ Secretary to “withdraw the list if not the petition altogether” as great risk and threats of harassment looms on the individuals listed including two of the ECP’s members – International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) Global Coordinator Beverly Longid and the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
The ECP statement was released in response to the DoJ petition filed at the Manila Regional Trial Court last February seeking to tag the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist groups under the Human Security Act of 2007. The petition includes over 600 names accused of membership in the CPP-NPA. Other than Longid and Corpuz, both known as international Indigenous Peoples (IP) rights advocates who are also Indigenous Bontok-Kankanaey from the Mountain Province, IP leaders also found in the list are Joan Carling, Atty. Jose Molintas, Windel Bolinget, Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, Joanna Carino, Datu Isidro Indao, Datu Mandayhon, and Datu Mampadayag.
“Due to my social involvement, I have experienced threats, harassments, and intimidation from suspected State agents,” Longid said in her personal statement. Similarly, the ECP stated that human rights advocates and ECP members accused of trumped up cases reported being subject of harassments making them vulnerable to unjust vexation – something they believe should have ended during the Martial Law years.
Attacks on IP and human rights activists is “a reaction [of the government] to [the] defense of Lumads caught in the massive military operations launched by Rodrigo Duterte” as Tauli-Corpuz pointed out in an interview. Longid also stressed, “Impunity reigns in my country, and the pronouncements and actions of Duterte show his total disregard for human rights, peoples’ welfare and interests, and rule of law, undermining our tight to speak freely and other basic freedoms.”
The ECP expressed that, instead of vilifying and putting people in great risk, the government must push for the peace talks with the National Democratic Front to prosper by addressing the ‘socio-economic issues [that] have spawned the long-drawn conflict in this land’ and put an end to ‘killing each other for another generation’. The IPMSDL reports that numerous cases of IP rights violations, killings, and attacks on culture and ways of life are the result of state military and para-military abuses carried out under the guise of counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism activities.
“The International IPMSDL organization, and I in my personal capacity, is overwhelmed by this show of solidarity to drop the DoJ terrorist list. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the whole Council,” Longid declared regarding the ECP’s statement. “At the same time, we appeal to all to echo the call to dismiss and delist the names in the DoJ petition and stand for everyone’s democratic rights for lawful dissent without fearing for their safety and security.”
Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | email@example.com