The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) denounces the Police Regional Office-Cordillera’s false accusation of the CPA as recruiters of New People’s Army members. The announcement made last Monday by PRO-Cordillera Director, Police Brigadier General R’win Pagkalinawan, of filing cases of illegal trafficking of minors against the CPA is unacceptable as this is unfounded and merely a part of the State attacks against activists and legitimate people’s organizations.
The CPA is composed of 307 people’s organizations in the Cordillera that work to promote indigenous people’s rights against destructive projects like large-scale mining and energy projects, and for the respect of human rights. Since its formation in 1984, CPA exercises legitimate political dissent and other fundamental freedoms and democratic rights guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution. The member organizations of the alliance have their own independence and initiatives, and the individual decisions of members to move out of the alliance in order to pursue careers or for other reasons is their right and is respected by the alliance. CPA does not recruit members of the New People’s Army.
We find the statement of PRO-Cordillera Director Pagkalinawan irresponsible for a police chief because law enforcement should not be used to justify attacks against activists and civilians.
General Pagkalinawan and the police force should uphold their mandate of protecting civilians, ensuring human rights obligations of the State, due process of law, and democracy or tolerance of legitimate dissent instead of terrorizing civilians and people’s organizations like the CPA. General Pagkalinawan should not be careless in issuing statements that may bring harm to civilians.
The PNP has been actively attacking activists and threatening the lives of civilians, from the shoot “communist organizers who unnecessarily organize the masses at this time” pronouncement of General Pagkalinawan on April 1 that endangers the lives of any person that they would judge to be “communist”; the numerous political vilification, terrorist-tagging and red-tagging posts at Facebook; and now the attempt at delegitimizing the CPA by weaponizing the law.
We challenge the Police Regional Office Cordillera and the entire police force not to tolerate and to correct all forms of attacks against activists and their organizations.
Instead of continuously attacking civilians and activists, the police and government should exert more efforts in resolving the COVID-19 crisis to save lives.
Bestang Dekdeken, Secretary General