Women activists post bail

By JEOFFREY MHAR LARUA
www.nordis.net

CANDON CITY — Women human rights and environmental activists posted bail, February 9, for “fabricated” charges before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) here.

PURPLE HANDS AGAINST TYRANNY. Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) Joanne Villanueva (far left), Sherry Mae Soledad (left), Rachel Mariano (right), and Sarah Abellon-Alikes (far right), show their purple stamp-stained hands after posting bail on multiple counts of false charges filed by state elements. Photo by Jeoffrey Mhar Larua

The women activists, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joanne Villanueva, Asia Isabelle Gepte, and Rachel Mariano, received their release orders from the Candon court pending arraignment for homicide and frustrated homicide charges filed against them by elements of the 7th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army last year.

The charges came amid threats of a “crackdown” on activists by President Rodrigo Duterte.

‘A product of collective action’

Dubbing it a “continuing fight”, independent human rights group Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said that the money raised for the bail was a “product of collective action,” after various campaigns supporting persecuted activists were launched.

Alikes, a development worker with the Regional Development Center – Katinnulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan (RDC-Kaduami), meanwhile said that the ordeal caused distress not only among them, but also for their families.

“But we cannot persist if not for the support and the strength that we draw from the mass movement,” Alikes added.

Activists and supporters from Ilocos and Baguio accompanied the four persecuted to post bail in court, Friday.

Desperate to kill

Meanwhile, in a joint statement released the same day, the CHRA and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) said that the Duterte government is “ironically” using the government against its people.

“Duterte is hell-bent on eliminating dissent,” the groups said, citing relentless attacks on civil liberties recently. “State repression has intensified to ensure Duterte’s tyrannical rule with the country’s national patrimony being sold and poverty being aggravated,”

The groups add that State security forces have also been implementing illegal arrests and detention, food and economic blockade, forced evacuation, and even “indiscriminate air-strikes” using chemical weapons.

“State repression has always been connected with the economic crisis,” the groups said. # nordis.net

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