This letter was originally sent to President Marcos Jr. and the Malacañang Palace via email by ICHRP Canada on July 19, 2023.
Increasing use of the terror law and other trumped up charges against four (4) Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) leaders: Windel Bolinget, Jennifer Awingan, Sarah Abellon-Alikes and Steve Tauli designated as terrorists by the Anti-terrorism Council (ATC)
Date of Incident; Names of Victims/Organizations:
- February 2018 – Windel Bolinget was included in a “proscription list” of more than 600 individuals who are allegedly officers or members of the CPP-NPA. But his, as well as the names of most persons that were first included were later removed. Then in August 2018, Bolinget was included in a trumped-up murder case in Davao del Norte. The case was dismissed for lack of probable cause in July 2021. Bolinget was again wrongly accused, along with Awingan, Tauli, Abellon-Alikes and three other Cordillera and Ilocos-based activists, in a trumped-up case of rebellion before an Abra court last January 2023. The charges were quashed on May 11, 2023.
- January 30, 2022 – Jennifer Awingan was arrested on rebellion charges and was released eight days after posting bail. Her daughter, Kara Taggaoa, who is a staff of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), was arrested in October 2022 together with a transport group leader on similarly false and arbitrary charges.
- February 2017, 2017 – Sarah Abellon-Alikes was arrested on trumped up cases of arson and robbery. She was released on bail after two days in jail, and eventually the charges against her were dismissed.
- August 20, 2022 – Steve Tauli was abducted outside of the CPA. During his captivity, he was interrogated about his work and about the identities of certain CPP-NPA personalities. His abductors transferred Tauli to another vehicle and took him to a house where he was coerced into signing a document stating his supposed position in the CPP-NPA. Members of the CPA found Tauli on the night of August 21, 2022.
15 July 2023
Open Letter to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
RE: Increasing use of the terror law and other trumped up charges against four (4) activists: Windel Bolinget, Jennifer Awingan, Sarah Abellon-Alikes and Steve Tauli designated as terrorists by the Anti-terrorism Council (ATC)
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP Canada) joins the international community and peace-loving citizens in denouncing the unjustifiable and arbitrary designation by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) of six persons, including Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) chairperson, Windel Bolinget and its leaders Jennifer
Awingan, Sarah Abellon-Alikes and Stephen Tauli as “terrorist individuals,” in the ATC’s Resolution No. 41 approved on June 7, 2023 and published on July 10, 2023.
The ATC is now resorting to designation not only as a way of curtailing their movements and derailing their pro-people and human rights advocacies, but to set the victims up for arrest on other trumped-up charges or worse, for involuntary disappearance or extrajudicial killing.
There have been notable trends during the first year of your administration: implementing the draconian policies rolled out as laws of your predecessor Duterte, continuing its counter-insurgency campaign which resulted in at least 49 individuals arrested and detained under your watch out of 778 political prisoners as of June 2023.
Human rights alliance, Karapatan had documented at least 60 extrajudicial killings in 40 incidents nationwide. Of these cases, 20 occurred in Negros and 16 in Bicol, two of the areas singled out under Memorandum Order 32.
We are alarmed to learn of the rapid rise of enforced disappearances, eight of which were documented in the first 10 months of your administration.
The most notorious case observed under your watch involved a series of “indiscriminate bombings and strafing” by the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion in the villages bordering Carabalan and Mahalang villages in Himamaylan City on October 6 and 8, 2022. Over 15,00 residents were forced to evacuate. Similar aerial attacks were carried out in Kalinga and Cagayan provinces, affecting upland farms and causing more than
100 families to flee their homes.
Mr. President, these are considered violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as they result in civilian casualties and damage to civilian property, especially in farmlands which are the main source of livelihood of the peasant majority and wreak havoc on the environment and ancestral domain.
Mr. President, we urge you and call on your government:
- For the immediate retraction of ACT’s resolution No. 41 and designation.
- To implement the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act (RA 10353) enacted in 2012.
- To comply with your obligations to all human rights and international humanitarian law, treaties and conventions that your government is a signatory to including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Rev. Dr. Patricia Lisson
Chairperson, ICHRP Canada