By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY — Tyrants and dictators fall.
In a press conference, February 12, Monday, human rights group Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance called on everyone to fight the “fascist, dictatorial and tyrannical” regime of President Rodrigo Duterte.
This comes in the aftermath of the five women activists posting bail for the trumped-up charges the 7th Infantry Division (7th iD) of the Philippine Army filed against them.
Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Rachel Mariano, Joanne Villanueva, Sherry Mae Soledad and Asia Gepte are granted temporary liberty while the case is being heard in court.
The women activists have been charged with murder, but the case was downgraded to homicide in connection to an encounter between the 7th ID and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sicay, Ilocos Sur.
Mariano was again slapped with new trumped-up charges, this time in connection to an incident in Quirino, Ilocos Sur.
CPA Secretary-General Bestang Dekdeken denounced the government’s filing of trumped-up charges against activists as a way of diverting the discourse from the real criminals – foreign mining and energy companies who incessantly desire to take hold of indigenous people’s lands.
“The filing of trumped-up cases only serves to advance the interests of the true criminals – foreign mining and energy companies, land-grabbers, human rights violators and corrupt politicians. They aim to disrupt the delivery of services to far-flung communities which have suffered decades of neglect from the government,” Dekdeken said.
“Kami ang tinik sa lalamunan ng mga abusadong kompanya at mga tuta nilang politico,” she added.
The CHRA, meanwhile, slammed the ‘systematic’ repression against activists and human rights defenders as “reminiscent of the crackdown against activists during martial law.”
She further criticized the formation of the AFP-PNP Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) as an affront to civil and political rights, not only of activists, but also ordinary citizens. The IACLA was formed under the auspices of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon who formed a similar committee under the Arroyo regime.
The whole of Northern Luzon was pinpointed as a priority area for operations, which explains the rising cases of trumped-up charges againsts activists, community leaders and human rights workers all over the region.
Northern Dispatch columnist and Ilocos activist Sherwin de Vera also had trumped-up charges filed against him late last year.
“Events these past weeks clearly exposed the fascism of the government that attacks people’s basic rights while desperately seeking legitimacy to its tyrannical rule,” said CHRA vice chair Audrey Beltran.
“Duterte should be reminded that all the dictators in history fell and were forcibly removed by the people they oppressed,” she ended.
The CPA enjoins the Cordillera people to unite and fight Duterte’s tyrannical rule. It enjoined everyone to rely on collective action as means to resist the looming dictatorship.
Dekdeken celebrated the formation of the local chapter of Movement Against Tyranny as a “step forward to achieving broader unity to defend human rights.
“We will not be cowed. The Kaigorotan are a brave people. We will continue to protest and fight the tyranny of Duterte.” # nordis.net