HomeNewsPhilippine groups decry ‘terrorist’ designation of activists, IP leaders

Philippine groups decry ‘terrorist’ designation of activists, IP leaders

Rights organizations on Tuesday denounced the designation of six activists, including four Indigenous People’s leaders, as “terrorist individuals” by the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

In a resolution dated June 7, 2023, and published on July 10, 2023, the ATC named Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) chairperson Windel Bolinget and CPA leaders Jennifer Awingan, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, and Stephen Tauli, together with Jovencio Tangbawan and May Casilao.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, described the Council’s action as “unjust, arbitrary, and malicious,” which she said will endanger the “lives, safety, and security” of the activists. 



“This is but the latest in a string of harassment the four indigenous people’s leaders have suffered in the hands of State forces,” said Palabay.

The four CPA leaders were previously charged with various criminal cases but were dismissed by courts. 

Rights organizations stage a protest action to denounce the designation of six activists, including four Indigenous People’s leaders, as “terrorist individuals” by the Anti-Terrorism Council in Quezon City, Philippines, July 11. Photo by Mark Saludes

In 2018, Bolinget was included in a “proscription list” of more than 600 individuals who are allegedly officers or members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA). His name was later removed.  

Tauli was abducted outside the CPA office in Baguio on August 20, 2022, by alleged elements of the government’s armed forces. He was found the next day.

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Meanwhile, Awingan was arrested on rebellion charges on January 30, 2022, and was released after eight days. In February 2017, Abellon-Alikes was arrested on arson and robbery charges. She was released on bail after two days in jail. Cases against her were dismissed.

Palabay said the ATC is “now resorting to the designation” to “set the victims up for arrest on other trumped-up charges or worse, for involuntary disappearance or extrajudicial killing”.

“The designation list is a virtual hit list,” she said. “National Security Adviser and ATC vice chair Eduardo Año himself has said that designation is a prelude to the filing of cases.” 

Last week, Karapatan expressed alarm over “the increasing use of terror laws” against activists and human rights workers “to suppress political dissent and violate basic rights and civil liberties”.

In the Southern Tagalog region, the group said 15 activists were “maliciously charged” under the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act including United Methodist Church pastor Rev. Glofie Baluntong, United Church of Christ of the Philippines pastor Rev. Edwin Egar, Kenneth Rementilla, and Jasmin Rubia.

Rights organizations stage a protest action to denounce the designation of six activists, including four Indigenous People’s leaders, as “terrorist individuals” by the Anti-Terrorism Council in Quezon City, Philippines, July 11. Photo by Mark Saludes

IP group TAKDER said the government is “weaponizing” the Anti-Terrorism Law against individuals “critical of the government” and those who “advocate for genuine change within the system”.

The KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas said the designation of four IP leaders as terrorists “is an attempt to quell” the struggle of the Indigenous People for self-determination. 

The group documented at least 63 Indigenous political prisoners and six victims of enforced disappearances among IP rights defenders.

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