Windel Bolinget is a loving husband, father and grandfather, and a son of two ilis (group of villages) – Guinaang and Sagada, Mountain Province. He is an Indigenous Peoples’ rights and human rights defender who is the current chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and convenor of Katribu the national alliance of indigenous peoples’ organizations in the Philippines. He is also a member of the global steering committee of Land is Life, a global network of indigenous peoples’ organizations and advocates. He has long been known as an indigenous activist strongly committed to his work.
Since last year, he has been subjected to heightened vicious political persecution that even dragged our family into vile disinformation campaigns alleging that he is a terrorist, an immoral man, and other unimaginable and dishonorable portrayals in materials funded and encouraged by the Philippine government and its State security forces.
He knew that these are all part of how an undemocratic society reacts against activists. The political persecution is not new to us. In 2005 to 2008, we were informed that he and other leaders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance were in a hitlist during the time when there was a spate of extrajudicial killings of activists in the country. In February 2018, his name and former CPA leaders were included in the Department of Justice’s terrorist proscription list. Their names were eventually dropped from the list because it was baseless. In the coming years after that, the threats continued – some as blatant as the shoot to kill order issued last March associating activists with terrorists and the threat to file trumped-up charges against him during the second half of this year.
We too knew about all of these and feared for his and our family’s safety, while we saw him persist to speak about injustice, especially at this time of pandemic. We fully stand by him. Of all people, it is us who can provide undeniable testament on how he worked for the better of those most marginalized. We are proud of him as he lives his life to the fullest as a true son of the people, of the Cordillera.
No person and no family should be subjected to what he and we are going through right now. Even his elderly parents in the ili are having great difficulty understanding why their son has to undergo this suffering. He has not committed any crime and should not even face an obviously trumped-up charge that alleges he was among those who killed Garito Malibato in Davao del Norte in 2018 while his role as CPA chairperson consumes most of his waking hours. How can he be a CPA chairperson by day in the Cordillera and a member of the New People’s Army at night as alleged by the case?
My husband will face his case in due time, as he stated and he is a man of his word.
Meanwhile, we fear for his safety as a P100,000 bounty for his arrest has been issued by the PNP, whom, as we have seen in the past months in their record have unjustly played the role of judges and executioners rather than implementers of the law.
The trumped-up case and vicious attacks against my husband are desperate attempts to destroy my husband and my family. These attacks must stop before the worse forms of human rights violations takes place. If any harm befalls him, we will hold the Philippine government and the State security forces and their agents fully accountable for it.
We appeal to all the people to stand with us against this injustice. Windel always echoed what he has learned from the Cordillera indigenous peoples, mabtad para ti panangisakit ken para iti pag-imbagan ti kada maysa, to work in solidarity for the good of all.
Join us in calling for the dropping of the trumped-up case and for his safety. To know more about the trumped-up case and how you can support, please read https://cpaphils.org/urgent-alert-drop-the-trumped-up.... We also encourage you to sign the Letter of Concern at https://forms.gle/zMLnZ9vojiHJzXKdA.
Thank you very much!
From Windel’s wife, Elvie, and children.