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On RPOC meeting: Tongtongan reiterates opposition vs ‘unconstitutional, undemocratic’ Anti-Terror Bill

June 19,2020

WE, the TONGTONGAN TI UMILI reiterate our strongest opposition against the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 (ATB) as the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) convenes, June 19, which our City Mayor Benjamin Magalong heads.

We take extreme note of Mayor Magalong’s lobbying to provincial governors and other local government heads for them to support the ATB. Like what we have said before: his support for the undemocratic legislation only shows his double-crossing on the pronouncement that activists and freethinkers enjoy safety and freedom in the City. The vague and unconstitutional provisions of the ATB, which many legal luminaries have opposed, will only strip away the civil liberties of Filipinos.

If the Mayor would only heed to the calls of his constituents, he would realize how much opposition the Anti-Terrorism Bill is gaining; that prominent Baguio personalities down to the regular citizens are speaking against the ATB because of its violations to our constitutionally-enshrined right to free speech and privacy.

Mayor Magalong knows full well that dissent, criticism, and dialogue are essential to good policymaking and governance, and this he has utilized in his commendable handling of the COVID-19 situation in Baguio. It is then disappointing and condemnable that he supports legislation that only means to gag democracy under the guise of countering terrorism.

We also express our utmost condemnation on the vilifying tirades of Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan against our parent organization, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA). Mayor Ganggangan’s invectives have already inflicted danger to CPA’s member organizations and its personalities, mainly enforced by elements of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.

CPA works for the defense of the ancestral domain and self-determination. As the CPA’s Metro Baguio chapter and a local alliance of people’s organizations, Tongtongan played a significant role in the Baguio people’s fight against anti-people policies and projects particularly the corporate takeover of the Baguio City Public Market, Baguio Water District (BWD)’s bulk water project, Jadewell’s commercialization of public roads and the movement against SM’s expansion. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tongtongan and the CPA convened the Health for the People Brigade and the Serve the People Brigade which provided the most underserved food relief, and our health and police frontliners the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that they need.

These are not the workings of terrorists, as opposed to what malicious elements and state security forces relentlessly portray us to be. We have a long and rich history of existence as an alliance of people’s and non-government organizations striving to uphold people’s rights and welfare.

The RPOC convening on the heels of the Sadanga Mayor’s attacks, along with the intensified implementation of President Duterte’s Executive Order (EO 70) and the looming passage of the ATB would only institutionalize the already virulent attacks against legitimate dissent, especially now when the national government’s response to the pandemic has to be questioned.

If only the government had formulated a better response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where the people reap the benefits of appropriate and comprehensive policy planning – an efficient health system, mass testing, free and accessible education, and sufficient and sustainable economic aid – then there would be no reason for people to rise and speak out.

As we continue to see the inefficiencies and excesses of government, politicos like Zamora getting the sweet treatment, and helpless people trying to live getting penalized, we will continue to dissent.

As for the RPOC, they should understand that there will be no “peace and order” so long as injustice persists.

In these precarious times, we will persist in our work for people’s rights and welfare and just and lasting peace. #JunkTerrorBill #ResistAsOne

For reference:
Jeoff Larua
Secretary-General, Tongtongan ti Umili-Cordillera Peoples Alliance

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