• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines


November 23, 2023

Earlier this morning, the youth of Baguio-Benguet stood in support of the landmark petition filed by four (4) Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) leaders challenging the unjust terrorist designation of the Anti-Terrorism Council against them. As Windel Bolinget, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Jennifer Awingan-Taggaoa, and Stephen Tauli filed their petition at the Baguio Regional Trial Court, youth formations in Baguio together with peoples organizations of Cordillera gathered together to express their support.

This designation by the ATC is provoked by the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 as it further reinforces the draconian attacks on human rights defenders all over the country. The false designation not only affects the individuals they have tagged but the security of their families and personal lives as well.

“It is enraging how my mother is vilified when all she does is forward the rights and welfare of the people of Cordillera. I fear for her safety, especially that the law is used against her. My mother is an activist, not a terrorist,” said Miel Taggaoa, son of Jennifer Awingan-Taggaoa.

CPA, with its long track record in forwarding indigenous peoples' rights, has always faced numerous state-propagated attacks. Its members and leaders have been subjected to trumped-up charges, political vilification, surveillance and harassment, illegal detention, and abduction. The ATC’s false designation only empowers the relentless offensive against indigenous peoples' rights activists.

“In facing these challenges, we must band together and show the strength of our collective action. This impunity and baseless allegations against rights activists shall never be allowed. We are tasked to call for justice. I call on my fellow youth to stand for truth, justice, and democracy, Our strength lies on our unity with the people as we unite our struggles with the struggles of other sectors,” said Rhanydell Baysa, spokesperson of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny (YANAT) Baguio-Benguet

Time and time again, the ATA has proved itself as an illegitimate mechanism to combat terrorism given its history of violence and intimidation against human rights defenders. The youth of Baguio-Benguet calls not just for the delisting of names of the four CPA leaders as terrorists but also for the total scrapping of the ATA for its constant infringement of various basic human rights.