Issue of April 8, 2018
     
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Militants denounce terror tag, find allies in local officials
by Jane B. Cadalig

Baguio officials joined activists tagged by the government as terrorists in explaining that the move is erroneous, saying their activities are not related to propagating terrorism.

Councilors Arthur Allad-iw and Faustino Olowan said the inclusion of the seven Cordillerans in the terrorist list is erroneous because those who were tagged are merely defending the rights of the oppressed and the marginalized.

“They are residents of the city who pay their taxes and are fighting for their democratic rights and upholding the rights of the marginalized. They are not terrorists,” Allad-iw said.

Olowan shared the view, saying the city government believes in the noble cause of the activists, which is why the city passed a resolution asking the government to drop the terrorist tag against the seven activists.

Tagged by the Justice Department as terrorists are Victoria Tauli-Corpus, Joan Carling, Beverly Longid, Jose Molintas, Windel Bolinget, Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, and Joanna Cariño.

The individuals, who belong to the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), denounced the move and said the reason the government is too critical about the organization is that the CPA has been at the forefront of protests against dictatorship and defending the rights of the indigenous peoples.

Cariño, a member of the CPA Advisory Council, said upholding the rights of the indigenous peoples is not a terroristic activity.

“Activism is not terrorism. Fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples is not terrorism,” she said.

She added their inclusion in the list of terrorists is a threat to their security.

“The President said that terrorists can be killed anytime. This is like the Oplan Tokhang, in which the suspects are killed without due process,” she said.

Ribaya, former secretary-general of the Tongtongan Ti Umili, said for the women, their inclusion in the list of terrorist is more difficult because aside from their vulnerability to harassment, they also fear the impact of the tag to their families.

“The effect of the terrorist tag is doubly difficult for us, especially that we have a president who does not respect women. We fear for the worst thing that the government will do to us. We can be harassed or arrested without a warrant because of the tag,” she said.

Molintas, a former city councilor, said they will challenge the constitutionality of the government’s move.

“We also want to know from those who verified under oath that we are terrorists to show their basis in saying that we are terrorists,” he said.

Molintas believes his inclusion in the terrorist list is associated with his serving as counsel for laborers and the urban poor who are fighting for their human rights.


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