THE Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) is calling for the denouncement of terrorist designation of four of their members – Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Jen Awingan, Steve Tauli, and CPA chairperson, Windel Bolinget. The four were accused of terrorism on June 20, according to the terror list created by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC). This is the first case in the Cordillera region.
Bestang Dekdeken, secretary-general of CPA, has strongly stated that they are not terrorists. They claim no connection with the CPP-NPA, including any of their leaders and members. They are calling for the abolishment of the ATC Resolution No.41 which designated them as terrorists. “The accusation created by the ATC is baseless and arbitrary – it is a big threat to the lives of individuals and/or organizations,” she said.
The wife of Windel, Elvie Bolinget, also gave a statement regarding the issue. There is no truth to the claim that her husband is a terrorist, she said. She cited Windel Bolinget as a good husband, father, and grandfather – a long-time activist upholding the social and economic benefits and rights of the Cordilleran people. Elvie is questioning the state on its action tagging individuals like Windel who think critically as terrorists.
“When a person thinks critically, they [the state] should think about it positively because it will help the country. Windel is an activist, not a terrorist,” she said emphatically.
Baguio councilor Jose Molintas, one of the legal counsels of the four, said that they are filing a petition in an Urdaneta City court in Pangasinan on July 25 to remove the four activists from the government’s official terror list.
He also said that parallel legal action is also being undertaken to ensure that their personal assets, like the payroll of the activists’ working family members, are not touched by AMLC.
Casselle Ton, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) spokesperson, also talked about how they are striving to have the Anti-Terror Law and its council abolished which she claimed to be unconstitutional and has very old views. It bypasses courts and authorizations to violate human rights.
“The Anti-Terror Council is not a court and should not have this power. It is a scam…The four members of the CPA were exposed to public scrutiny without due process which is why we continue to condemn this unjust and arbitrary designation of political activists as terrorist individuals. The designation not only endangers the individual’s lives but also their families, their colleagues, their organizations, and their members. They [ATC] have no right and should not have the power to do this.” She reiterates that their organization is not a terrorist organization. The CPA is one of the leading organizations fighting for the rights of the indigenous people, Ton claimed.
Due to the designation, The CPA bank account was frozen on June 30 by virtue of the resolution given by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. The CPA is likewise calling for the revocation of this action.
The CPA plans to take legal action for the revocation of the designation of their four members as terrorists and to lift the freezing of the bank accounts of the organization. They are also continuing the call for the abolishment of the Anti-Terror Law. – Zur Lemuel Mercado