Today, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) launches the Cordillera petition to void or repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. According to CPA, the law endangers the exercise of the rights of indigenous peoples to ancestral domain and to self-determination, suppresses democratic action, paves the way for a massive crackdown on democratic organizations, and seriously threatens what remains of democracy in the country.
According to CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget, “This is a draconian law that will sow terror in various communities. It is very dangerous to all individual civilians and civil society organizations. It is especially a grave concern for activists who have been continuously tagged as communists, terrorists and supporter or recruiters of the New People’s Army. Through this law, the basic human rights of any of us, activist or not, may be violated when the government says so.”
At present, there are more than 100 applications for large-scale mining covering some 630,000 hectares of land scattered in all of the Cordillera provinces. In addition, there are 93 awarded hydropower, including large dams, and geothermal power projects in the region. Some of these are included in Duterte’s Build! Build! Build! economic program.
“Communities, individuals and organizations that oppose these projects may be declared terrorists due to the overbroad definition of terrorism in the Terror Law. We can be jailed for a lifetime by opposing these destructive projects since our actions can be easily misinterpreted as ‘intended to cause extensive damage to critical infrastructure’ like mining and dam projects. Even our educational seminars about the Free Prior and Informed Consent for the proposed projects may be construed as inciting to terrorism’. Thus, the law will pave the way for the entry of more destructive projects,” added Bolinget.
“For 36 years, our organization has been working for the defense of our ancestral lands against plunder and destruction by large dam builders, large-scale loggers, and large miners. We do this in various ways, such as human barricades, pickets, protest marches, rallies and other mass actions, dialogues, and lobby. We do these peacefully, with only our voices and pens as our weapons,”
The CPA fears that the law will increase their vulnerability to red-tagging, police and military surveillance, threat, harassment, and intimidation as well as outright brutality, warrantless arrest, and imprisonment.
“There have been cases of violence by the police and military that they have justified by saying our actions were communist-instigated, terrorist-infiltrated and a threat to public safety. We have colleagues who have fallen victims of extrajudicial killings and unjust incarceration. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our organizations and ourselves including our families have been viciously maligned, vilified and tagged as communists and terrorists. And now that there is a Terror Law, the military, police and even local government officials can easily use it to abuse their authority and violate our human rights,” added Bolinget.
Bolinget enjoins kakailian, fellow Cordillerans and Filipinos to join the call to junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.#