By SHERWIN DE VERA
My friend, Atty. Manja Bayang, tagged me in her Facebook post, informing me that my name was included in the list of persons being tagged by the Duterte administration as terrorist under the Human Security Act. I also saw the related article published by Inquirer.net and learned that I am accused of being a member of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Also included in the list are personalities from the United Nations and the Cordillera People’s Alliance.
Based on media reports, the said list, with more than 600 names, is contained in the petition filed by the Philippine Government through the Department of Justice (DOJ) to declare the CPP and New People’s Army as terrorist groups.
I condemn this as another malicious and baseless accusation against me by the DOJ under the behest of Duterte and the AFP.
My work as an environmentalist and human rights advocate is not connected in any way with the CPP-NPA. I am ready to answer and prove that this allegation is false in the proper time and forum.
Being on the “terror” list placed me, including my family, on dangerous grounds. The peril is obvious with the results from Duterte’s Tokhang list and his call for the killing of suspected rebels in exchange for monetary reward. It also puts us on the cross-hairs of Duterte’s army of online trolls that propagates hate and violence against those critical of his rule.
Not contented of his iron-grip over almost all state offices, Duterte has now reduced them into mere tools of intimidation and repression. This action is not only directed towards discrediting me or my organizations. Its ultimate purpose is to silence all political dissenters.
With Duterte’s political and economic romance with China, our hard-won victories against Chinese mining companies who plundered our resources will surely be put aside. It is not far-fetched that these companies will be back to our shores and mountains in no time.
Me and my family have just been through a painful ordeal on my arrest and detention for the trumped-up charge of rebellion more than a month ago. I am temporarily released on bail and have yet to have my case heard on April. These attacks against me are already taking its toll on my family’s physical, emotional and financial state.
Despite all these complications, I will not be cowed nor kowtow to the likes of Duterte and his cohorts.
The pursuit for the people’s right to equitable share of resources and healthy environment is a noble cause. The government may call it “terrorism” but its something that human rights and environmental activists should never be ashamed nor afraid of.
On the other hand, Duterte’s tyrannical rule reeks with murder, plunder and deception; utilizing the armed forces, legal institutions and paid thugs to eliminate the opposition and sow terror among the people.
I call on all those who value democracy and social justice to support us. I again appeal to my family, relatives, my Kapatids, colleagues in the people’s movement and friends to again tread with me in my bid to hurdle this challenge. # nordis.net