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The Cordillera Peoples Alliance website
Posted: September 20, 2006
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September 20, 2006

At about 7:25 PM on September 19, 2006, Ms. Abigail Bengwayan, the Public Information and Human Rights officer of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), was assaulted by an unidentified man near the hi-way in Betag, La Trinidad, Benguet on her way home. The attacker, wearing a cap with handkerchief covering his face, locked her and held a knife to her neck. Bengwayan was able to call the attention of neighboring residents and struggled to escape towards their house. Another man was also seen and believed to be the lookout of the assailant. The incident was immediately reported to the La Trinidad Police Office by the victim with her lawyer and officemates who promptly responded to the incident. On the same evening at around 7:00, Santos Mero, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony-Cordillera and also a Public Information Officer of CPA, was followed by a suspicious motor-riding man while on his way home from the office.

The two simultaneous incidents happened after the killing of Alyce Claver and frustrated political assassination of her husband Chandu Claver on July 31 and these clearly demonstrate the continuing intimidation, assault and surveillance leading to the actual assassination of Cordillera activists in addition to those already killed without a single victim served justice. Imminent danger and threat to the lives of CPA leaders and staff intensifies since the series of killings of CPA leaders starting in 2005, the attempted raid of the CPA office in October 2005, the military hitlist in February 2006, and the sustained surveillances.

Bengwayan and Mero have actively exposed the political extrajudicial killings and terrorism committed by the Arroyo administration against the Cordillera indigenous peoples and the Filipino people. They have also worked hard in the campaign and protests against destructive projects like large-scale mining and dams, and strived hard for the advocacy of indigenous peoples rights, human rights and peace.

The incidents happened at a time when other activists in Legazpi and other parts of the country were killed on the eve of Martial Law anniversary increasing the national death toll to 753, with 184 activists missing in just a short period of Arroyo’s illegitimate term.

The Arroyo government has been isolated from the Filipino people and the international community as a result of its policy of political extrajudicial killings and terrorism in the context of the state-sponsored Oplan Bantay Laya. We must not allow this senseless political killings and political bloodbath for Gloria Arroyo’s self interest to prolong in power. We must employ all possible means to stop the killings and other human rights abuses and to seek justice to all the victims. We must unite and work for the ouster of the fascist Arroyo regime. As long as Arroyo remains in power, the killings would accelerate and as long as she remains as the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), nationwide terror would further escalate.

We condemn the continuing attempts to the lives of Cordillera activists and we call on the law enforcers, the government and the public to act for an end to the killings and terrorism by the Arroyo regime.

September 21 marks the 34th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law of the US-Marcos dictatorship. Join the national and international protest action against political killings in the Philippines!

Respect the sanctity of life and uphold human rights! Justice to all victims of political extrajudicial killings and human rights violations!

Resist the Arroyo martial rule! Stop the killings!

Issued by:

Windel Bolinget
Secretary General
Cordillera Peoples Alliance
20 Sept 2006

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