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February 20, 2008

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Partylists pass resolution in support of IP leader

Partylist representatives of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela filed House of Representatives Resolution No. 469 on February 18 this week which calls on the Committee on Human Rights to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation into the political persecution of Jose Cawiding, secretary general of the Metro Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Assembly (MBTELA). He was falsely accused of being a member of the New People's Army (NPA) and charged of murder in August 2003 and was arrested in October 2007.

A native of Sadanga, Mt. Province, Cawiding was a former staff of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance Education Commission and Elders Desk.

"Investigation would show that indeed Cawiding was arrested and prosecuted under false charges. Thus, we look forward to the concerned committees in the House of Representatives to look into the matter with impartiality and expediency, as the findings would assist in providing justice for victims of malicious prosecution", said CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid.

She added that stiffer penalties should be meted out to law enforcement and military forces found guilty of committing human rights violations. "The chain of command should also be clearly made accountable for the actions of its lower units", Longid said.

Cawiding remains incarcerated at the Benguet Provincial Jail since his arrest on October 1 last year. From September to November 2006, Cawiding and wife Jeannette, a leader of the Tongtongan Ti Umili (TTU) were subjected to intense surveillance at their residence in Brgy. Hillside, Baguio City. The TTU is the urban chapter of the CPA.

The perceived threat to the couple's lives and security was documented and filed as a complaint with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Summary, Extrajudicial or Summary Executions Prof. Philip Alston in February 2007.

Support continues to pour in locally up to the international community in the campaign calling for Cawiding's release. This includes a resolution filed by the Baguio City Council denouncing political repression and political persecution. Letters of concern continue to be responded to internationally by concerned individuals and organizations.# Cordillera Peoples Alliance-Public Information Commission


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