Aside from UN expert, activists also on DOJ’s ‘terrorist list’

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
Aside from UN expert, activists also on DOJâs âterrorist listâ

An activist shouts slogans during a protest against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte near the Malacanang palace in Manila on September 21, 2017. Activists are holding a series of protests on September 21 to denounce drug war killings and what they say is a slide to tyranny under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Noel Celis/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — “I am an activist for indigenous people's rights, not a terrorist.”

That was the reaction of Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño after she learned that she is among the 600 alleged communist insurgents that the government wants declared terrorists.

In a petition filed in a Manila court last month, the Department of Justice said it wants alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, tagged as terrorists under the Human Security Act.

Aside from Cariño, who helped found the Cordillera People's Alliance in 1984 to fight for land rights, United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is also included in the complaint.

Meanwhile, activists Joan Carling, Beverly Longid, Windel Bolinget, Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding, and human rights lawyer Jose Molintas are likewise in the DOJ’s terrorist list, Cariño said.

“It is alarming and a serious threat to my security and those of other CPA personalities past and present to be included in such a ‘terrorist’ list,” Cariño said in a social media post.

“The Cordillera People's Alliance, to which I have devoted the best years of my life, is a legal, democratic organization with a public record of defense for indigenous people's rights to ancestral land and self-determination,” she added.

The DOJ’s move came on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to eliminate the communist movement following the breakdown of peace talks with rebels.

Malacañang has said the Justice Department was just “reinforcing” the US State Department and the European Union’s classification of the CPP-NPA as terrorist bodies.

The Palace has also insisted that the DOJ would not have filed the petition without evidence.

‘Repressive regime’

Duterte’s order to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorists has raised concerns among activists in the national democratic movement that legitimate organizations could be targeted as supporters of terrorism.

Membership in or support of a national democratic activist organization is not equivalent to affiliation with the communist movement.

By listing groups and individuals as terrorists, the state can freeze and forfeit their properties or funds, among other measures.

“This is clearly an attack by this repressive regime on the Cordillera People's Alliance and indigenous rights defenders. Let us speak up to denounce this new scheme to silence legitimate opposition to tyranny and dictatorship,” Cariño said.

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