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October 11, 2007

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URGENT ALERT on the Arrest and Detention of Jose "Joe" Cawiding


On October 1, 2007, Jose "Joe" Cawiding was arrested in Baguio city by elements of the Philippine National Police. Cawiding is the Secretary General of the Metro Baguio Tribal Elders Assembly (MBTELA), and is also a local mediator of the Supreme Court Philippine Mediation Center. Previously, he has served as a Coordinator of Bayan Muna for Baguio-Benguet.

Cawiding has been falsely accused of being a member of the revolutionary group the New Peoples Army (NPA), and charged, together with other alleged NPA members, with eight (8) counts of murder and one (1) frustrated murder. These charges are related to a July 14, 2003 ambush of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops staged by members of the NPA operating in Mt. Province. Shortly after the incident, the NPA issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

At the time of the ambush, Cawiding was in Baguio City, participating in the Bayan Muna National Council meeting at the Teachers' Camp.

Three years later, in 2006, Jose Cawiding was among those listed in the AFP's Order of Battle, and was targeted for extra- judicial killing. He and his wife, Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding - leader of Tongtongan Ti Umili (People's Forum), were subjected to intense military surveillance for three months, a monitoring process that typically precedes assassination. Through the help of their neighbors, they successfully evaded the assassination attempt against them.

Jose Cawiding has been an active leader of the Cordillera mass movement for more than two decades. He started as a leader of the urban poor youth in Baguio city, and later became an organizer of the Itogon- Interbarangay Alliance, which spearheaded resistance to the Benguet Corporation's open pit mining operation. Later, he joined the Cordillera Peoples Allaince (CPA) Elders Desk and became active in the electoral process as the BAYAN MUNA Coordinator of Baguio-Benguet.

His arrest and detention is clearly politically motivated to intimidate the people's mass movement. With this alarming development, it is imperative for us to raise a public outcry denouncing this incident as a transgression of human rights. We cannot allow political prosecution and extra judicial killings to continue. We shall remain ever vigilant and demand that the government respect our human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Please send your letters of concern to Philippine government officials to denounce political prosecution and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Jose "Joe" Cawiding.


a. Sec. Gilberto Teodoro
Department of National Defense (DND)
Room 301, DND Building
Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City
Telephone: +63. 02. 911. 0488

b. Sec. Raul Gonzalez
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Main Building
Padre Faura Street, Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63. 02. 521. 8344
Email: or

c. Gen. Eugene Martin
Regional Director
Police Regional Office -Cordillera Region
Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet

d. Atty. Russel Ma-a0
Regional Coordinator
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-Cordillera
SSS Building, Harrison Road, Baguio City
Telephone: +63. 074. 619. 9088
Fax: +63. 074. 619. 9089

e. Pros. Moises Ayochok
Provincial Prosecutor
Bontoc, Mountain Province

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