February 12, 2021- Beatrice ‘Betty’ Belen is released from detention following the court’s dismissal of the trumped-up charges against her. She was detained on October 25, 2020 following an illegal search of her residence in Kalinga which yielded explosives believed to be planted by the operating policemen.
We welcome the court’s decision on Betty’s case and the upholding of truth and justice. This proves once again the non-existence of the police’s credibility.
The trumped-up charges against Indigenous human rights defenders is a direct translation of President Duterte’s earlier pronouncement to ‘flatten the hills’ through his pretentious counter-insurgency program. His IP-centric approach to counter-insurgency is a tool to eliminate government critics and not insurgency. So far, it has only targeted innocent human rights defenders and dissenters while the real terrorists in uniform continue to spread violence and fear in communities, claiming hundreds of lives.
Under the command of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the military and police are on a bloody rampage to silence all oppositions in their desperation to mask the Duterte regime’s declining popularity. They resort to despicable methods to silence those who continue to expose the government’s inutility, including criminalisation of our Indigenous leaders, terrorist tagging and even killings.
We cite as an example the fabricated murder charge against CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget who is currently under the protective custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). An arrest warrant and a ‘shoot to kill order’ for him came out after months of red-tagging, surveillance and all forms of harassment from the state armed forces.
It is the same experience for our colleagues in Mountain Province who were also red-tagged and harassed by the military. These spiteful allegations makes it easy for them to pin any crime on human rights defenders despite the absence of factual basis. This is what happened to John Lipato of CPA- Mountain Province who was falsely accused by the police for the murder of one Salvador Liked. His case was also dismissed.
Their practice of red-tagging progressive leaders is a precedent to these forms of harassment and human rights violations.
abricated cases against Cordillera activists is one of their ways to stop the people and their organizations from opposing the entry of government sanctioned corporate mining operations and environmentally destructive energy projects. Under the guise of counter-insurgency, the military and police serve as investment security force of corporations hence the militarization of communities with strong opposition to corporate interests in their ancestral domains and the criminalization of their leaders.
As Duterte’s presidency nears its end, he and his minions are scrambling to secure their selfish interests without care whether the peoples’ welfare will be sacrificed.
We will remain vigilant for all forms of state attacks on our fundamental rights as citizens.
Our colleagues has staked lives and limb for our mission to defend land and resources, we will continue to do so. We take courage from the peoples’ support and no amount of harassment will deter us.
Our practice of community defense since the colonial years has helped us keep our ancestral domains thus far. We gain wisdom from these experiences and will carry on!