Cordillera Peoples Alliance chairperson Windel Bolinget, accompanied by his lawyer Atty. Jose Molintas, attended a hearing this morning at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 on the motion Bolinget filed last August 31 seeking for the removal of his name from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) terrorist proscription list and for the dismissal of the DOJ petition to proscribe the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations. The supplemental motion filed by Atty. Francisca Claver for the deferment of the publication of the “summons” was also heard by the court.
According to Windel Bolinget, Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, “We welcome the court’s decision to defer the publication of the “summons” in the media. The court should now immediately dismiss the DOJ petition as it is baseless, malicious and just putting us at risk. The DOJ secretary even admitted earlier that they did not conduct any verification. We do not deserve to be criminalized and politically vilified when all we do is protect our rights as indigenous peoples, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the country’s democracy.”
“Department of Justice’s Senior Assistant State Prosecutor, Peter Ong, was present during the hearing. DOJ is given two weeks to respond to the motion I filed, along with previous motions filed by my colleagues Joanna Patricia Cariño, Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding, Joan Carling, Beverly Longid. After this, the court will come out with decisions on the motions,” added Bolinget.
Earlier statements released by the CPA and various groups stated that the DOJ proscription list is a clear attack to the CPA by naming seven previous and present leaders of the organization. It intends to quell legitimate dissent and threaten indigenous human rights defenders in the region and across the country that staunchly assert their right to self-determination, defend their ancestral lands and the environment.
For nearly four decades, the CPA has been in the forefront of the Cordillera peoples’ struggle since the dark years of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.
“The DOJ petition, various trumped-up charges filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against indigenous human rights defenders and activists, militarization of Cordillera communities and human rights violations, coupled with various applications for mining, dams and other energy projects clearly show that we are currently under a de facto martial law. Our ancestral lands are under attack and the people who have the courage to stand up are being criminalized, tagged as terrorists and politically vilified,” said Bolinget.
The hearing coincided with the commemoration of Martial Law. Bolinget said that, “The Cordillera people will resist Duterte’s dictatorship, as we did during the Martial Law years. We enjoin concerned citizens to be vigilant and continue to defend the people from any form of human rights violations and oppression. Never again to martial law!”
For reference: Windel Bolinget, CPA Chairperson