SC asked to notice arrest of two anti-terrorism law petitioners

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SC asked to notice arrest of two anti-terrorism law petitioners
In this photo taken Aug. 7, 2020, representatives of indigenous and Moro peoples, and civil society groups filed the 26th petition vs the anti-terrorism law.
JUCRA pool photo

MANILA, Philippines — The arrest of two rights defenders of Indigenous Peoples over what they said are trumped-up charges only show the dangers activists are facing, especially in a country with the feared Anti-Terrorism Act in place, petitioners told the Supreme Court.

In a manifestation filed electronically on Wednesday, indigenous and Moro peoples brought to the SC’s attention the arrest of two anti-terrorism law petitioners on what they claim are trumped up charges.

The group led Beverly Longid, global coordinator of the International Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), filed the pleading through their counsel, Constitutional law professor Tony La Viña.

“The arrest of petitioners Windel Bolinget and Chad Errol Booc show the imminent danger that human rights defenders and dissenters face, particularly with the passage of the Anti-Terror Law,” they said.

READ: Citing long struggle to self-determination, indigenous, Moro peoples assail anti-terror law

Arrest of Windel Bolinget

They told the court that petitioner Windel Bolinget was subjected to a “shoot-to-kill” order should he “resist arrest” from Cordillera police director, Brig. Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan.

Bolinget was ordered arrested for murder in March 2018, in Davao del Norte, a charge that the petitioners said is a “result of trumped-up charges, who was targeted in his position as head of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).”

The petitioners also noted that Bolinget was included, then later removed from, in the proscription petition list of the Department of Justice that tagged more than 600 individuals.

Bolinget is a long-time activist who was opposed to mining by foreign companies and other cases involving their ancestral land. According to their petition, CPA is an independent federation of progressive peoples’ organizations and works to promote and defend IP’s rights, social justice and national freedom and democracy.

Bolinget has since surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation in Baguio City.

Arrest of Alcadev teacher Chad Booc

The petitioners also noted that no less than President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2017, mere months into his administration, threatened he will bomb Lumad community schools, for supposedly teaching children to rebel—a remark the chief executive later walked back on following criticism from rights groups and representatives of communities.

SPECIAL REPORT: For Lumad schools, even holding class is a struggle

The same allegations are being hurled against the Lumads who have been staying at the University of San Carlos Cebu since 2020.

“It is to be remembered that since 2020, Lumad schools have faced constant harassment and threats, including forced closures and aerial bombings,” the petitioners said.

They cited the arrest of their co-petitioner and Alcadev teacher Chad Booc was arrested in a police-led raid in University of San Carlos Cebu.

Police had claimed the government were rescuing Lumad children in the operation on Monday, while school officials swiftly denied there was no need for such rescue as the learners where being taken care of and are supposed to go back to their provinces the same week.

Cebu City’s Department of Social Welfare and Development also said the 19 children “rescued” from a Lumad bakwit school said “nothing about training to be child warriors” and only shared they were taught to read and write.

The petitioners told the SC that the arrest of Bolinget and Booc, over what they claimed are trumped up charges, “further prove the chilling effect that such law can create, as activists, indigenous peoples and indigenous peoples’ rights supporters are now tagged as criminals.”

"It is prayed by petitioners that the Honorable Court take notice of this Manifestation," they added.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), one of the seven oralists of the petitioners, had also raised Booc’s arrest to the SC on Tuesday’s oral arguments as he reiterated their plea to temporarily stop the implementation of the law.

Lagman was directed to put this in writing, while Solicitor General Jose Calida would be given time to file their comment.




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