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Posted: April 4, 2006
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April 4, 2006

Updates on the surveillance and threats to Cordillera political activists

On March 21, 2006, at around 11:30 AM, police officers from the Investigation Section of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) visited the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) office and interviewed CPA Secretary General Mr. Windel Bolinget on the surveillance and threats Cordillera political activists.

The police officers showed the letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission expressing its concern on the issue. Also presented to Mr. Bolinget was the memorandum issued by Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Superintendent Arturo Lomibao, instructing the investigation to the issue because of the barrage of letters of concern from international organizations. This is in response to the Action Alert issued by the CPA on February 16, 2006. The local police officers also mentioned that they also got the information on the threats to Cordillera political activists through the local newspapersThe Investigation Team included PO3 Anatolio G. Rillera Jr., Alfredo Kawating and SPO3 Antonio Estocapio.

A week earlier, an official of the Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera Region called up the CPA office and informed Mr. Bolinget on the memorandum for investigation.

Mr. Bolinget narrated to the investigating police officers the incidents of intensified surveillance and harassment of Cordillera political activists since October January 2005 to the present. He also disclosed the information on the military hit list of Cordillera political activists, which includes the CPA, Bayan Muna-Cordillera, Apit Tako, and MACQUITACDG, but did not name the source for security reasons. The CPA gave the investigating team a copy of its press release and action alert on March 22. The investigating police officers said they will make their report immediately and will give a copy to the CPA. As of this report, a copy of their report on this investigation has not been given to the CPA.

Based on the observation of staff and officers of CPA, the surveillance of the CPA office has drastically reduced since middle March. But as of yesterday, April 3, a car with three men with handkerchiefs covering their faces, was again parked outside the office and monitoring those coming in and out of the office. Likewise, the close monitoring of some CPA leaders in the military hitlist, particularly Mr. Fernando Mangili and Joan Carling remain active.

To date, more than 300 international organizations have signed on to the letter of concern circulated by CPA at the international level, while more than 150 sent directly their letter of concern to the President and other concerned officials of the government. This demonstration of solidarity and concern exerted pressure to the Philippine government to take some steps, leading to the investigation, and possibly the temporary lifting of surveillance of the CPA office.

While these are positive developments, those in the military hitlist and other activists in the Cordillera remain vigilant and continue to take precautionary measures. The police investigation might just come up with a report, dismissing the threats. Further, this may just be a ploy of the government to claim that it has taken some steps in response to international pressure, but nothing substantial will actually take place to avert the threats and harassments.

The threats remain in place, since political killings continue to take place in other regions of the country. From January to March this year, political activists have either been killed or have disappeared; the most recent case is of student activist Cris Hugo, regional coordinator of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) in the Bicol region. Labor leaders Robert de la Cruz (Southern Tagalog), Tirso Cruz (Tarlac) were also slain in the first quarter. Members and leaders of Bayan Muna (Jensen Cristobal, Pasay), Alliance of Concerned Teachers (Napoleon Pornasdora, Quezon), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Santiago Teodoro, Bulacan) were killed in cold blood too. Rogelio Concepcion (Bulacan) and Joey Estriber (Aurora) are believed to have been abducted and are still missing.

Thus, CPA will continue to seek national and international support and attention over the worsening political repression in the country. It is important to keep the issue in the public, and draw the broadest support and concern in order to keep the pressure to the government and the military. They must be held accountable to the continuing political repression, killings of political activists and other human rights violations.

Even in the midst of this situation, CPA shall hold its annual Cordillera Day celebration in Kalinga this coming April 22-25. More than 3,000 individuals are expected to gather in this solidarity affair to witness and testify in a people’s tribunal on the human rights violations of the Arroyo Regime in the Cordillera. #

Issued by Joan Carling,
Cordillera Peoples Alliance Chairperson
April 4, 2006

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