Please find attached a joint statement of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and Cordillera Human Rights Alliance. This morning in Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur, women human rights defenders Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Rachel Mariano, Joanne Villanueva and Sherry Mae Soledad have posted bail for fabricated court charges that were filed against them in 2017 (attached are photos from the posting of bail).
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance denounce the continuing attacks of the US-Duterte regime against human rights and environmental activists in the region as part of its “Reign of terror” over the Filipino people.
Since last year, women activists advocating human rights, environmental protection and indigenous peoples’ rights in the region have been targets to relentless harassment, surveillance, including the filing of trumped-up cases. False cases of homicide and frustrated homicide were lobbed against Rachel Mariano, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joan Villanueva, and Asia Gepte by the 71st DRC and 81st IBPA under the 7th ID in connection to the alleged encounters with the New People’s Army last year.
These women human rights defenders in the Cordillera work for the interests of the marginalized indigenous peoples and peasants of the North. They have actively campaigned for the cessation of destructive foreign-owned mining, dam projects and plantations which destroy our ancestral domain. State repression and State terrorism is Duterte’s response to everyone and anyone who dares to criticize and offer genuine solutions to the perennial problems of the indigenous peoples and the whole Philippine society.”
Duterte’s recent pronouncements is rather an echo of the “business as usual” model that past governments have worked for. Land grabbing and extractive projects such as mining applications and oppressive laws such as the Mining Act of 1995 allowing 100% foreign ownership of mining companies or EO 79 that have been designed as hallmarks to attract foreign companies and investors that destroyed millions of hectares of our ancestral lands. Yet, despite the presence of several mining and energy companies, development never arrived to the Cordillera as it remains the 2nd poorest region in the Philippines every year.