The United Church of Canada (UCC) stands in solidarity with CPA Sec-Gen Bestang Dekdeken amid the cyberlibel charge filed against her by former Cordillera police chief.
June 22, 2022
We Stand in Solidarity with Bestang Dekdeken
Bestang Dekdeken is a human rights defender from the Cordillera Region of the Philippines and the Secretary General of the Cordillera People’s Alliance. She was sued for cyber libel by the state after she publicly accused the former Cordillera Police Chief of dismantling of a memorial to Macli-ing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc, and Lumbaya Gayudan, three Kalinga leaders who successfully campaigned against the Chico Dam project in the 1970s. The monument was built by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in 2017, together with the families of the heroes and martyrs as well as people from Bugnay, the site of the monument. This was then removed forcibly on January 3, 2020. Bestang was able to post bail and the trial is ongoing.
Her case is part of the state’s systematic political persecution of legal and legitimate dissent and of Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Defenders. The case filed against Bestang is an attempt to silence criticism and protest against state-perpetrated human rights violations and abuses, and is among the concrete expressions of the law being weaponized against the people. It is meant to sow fear among communities and in the ranks of activists and critics.
We, the undersigned, call on the Government of the Philippines to stop the persecution of women human rights defenders and to drop the cyber libel charges against Bestang.
Rev. Dr. Japhet Ndhlovu
Church in Mission Unit
The United Church of Canada