By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY — In an online post, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) – Karapatan enjoined the public to support women activists being persecuted by the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in the past three months.
These women activists are Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joanne Villanueva, Rachel Mariano, Asia Isabella Gepte and Shirley Ann Angiwot.
Abellon-Alikes, Soledad, Villanueva, Mariano and Gepte – along with 18 others – are named in an investigation data form as involved in a gun firing in Sitio Mabileg, Brgy. San Ramon, Sigay, Ilocos Sur in August 4.
The five are accused as belonging to a New People’s Army (NPA) unit which clashed with soldiers that day, according a certain Cpl Melvin Sevilla Saura. They have been charged with ten counts of multiple attempted murder.
“Just recently, it came to our attention that the case involves yet another engagement of AFP forces, the 81st Infantry Battalion with the NPA. With this development, we are not discounting the possibility that other fabricated charges are still to be filed against them,” the CHRA post said.
Since August this year, the 24th Infantry Battalion has maligned Angiwot, Catholic Bishop Sergio Utleg and other churchworkers. They all were tagged as “enemies of the state” and were linked to the NPA.
“All the named women activists belonging to legal and legitimate organisations in the Cordillera people’s movement, working for the promotion and respect of indigenous peoples therein. All victims are advocates for peace, supporters of the Peace Talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP. All are working to support marginalized communities. Two of these women have young children while another recently gave birth to her first child,” the post added.
CHRA further emphasized the important role these women play in their work towards a more just and humane society. It further shed light on the toll the persecution puts on the lives of these women. Two of them have young children, and one just gave birth, according to the post.
“It has been a practice by State security forces to use trumped up charges to threaten, harass, intimidate and “neutralize” whom they deem as “enemies of the State” including legal political activists,” the post ended.
The CHRA encouraged all forms of support for them on – moral, financial and legal support among others. # nordis.net