By CSO PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS
The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) condemns the harassment and red-baiting tactics being waged by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) to 600 Filipino activists and development workers, including Beverly Longid, one of CPDE co-chairs, and coordinator of International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation.
On 21 February 2018, the GPH through its Department of Justice filed a petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army as terrorist organisations after the government canceled peace negotiations with the groups. It included, however, 600 individuals including civil society leaders such as Longid who has no affiliation whatsoever to these groups.
As a Cordilleran activist herself, Longid has been a staunch defender of indigenous peoples (IP) rights in the Philippines since the 1990s. She served as chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, an IP and multi-sectoral alliance in Northern Philippines. Longid has been instrumental in ensuring the inclusion of the IP as a sector within the CPDE platform.
Indigenous leaders like Longid assume an important role to foster development effectiveness principles and practices in the Philippines, especially in IP areas, for greater respect for human rights and the protection of human rights defenders, while also fostering the greater defense of peoples’ rights over their land and resources.
CPDE condemns all acts of human rights violations, harassment and intimidation, including these fabricated charges, leveled against its co-chair. At a time when there is a global wave of closing spaces for people to exercise democracy, we deplore the efforts of the government to disenfranchise democratic dissent and silence critical engagement from a strong civil society.
CPDE considers the vilification of Longid and others by the GPH as directly undermining the global call to foster an enabling environment for CSOs. The Philippines should fully recognize the important role of CSO leaders like Longid in advancing democratic practice, rightful participation in development decisions and in ensuring accountability of development actors. We must remind the GPH of its responsibility to uphold human rights, social justice, inclusive and sustainable development. We stand with Longid and other Filipino activists and development workers in this fight and struggle for their rights and self-determination.
We encourage our colleagues in civil society to continue protecting civil society spaces even when political and legal institutions are used to shrink remaining spaces for meaningful participation. Similar government acts that seek to trivialize or demonize by maligning critical voices as terrorism must be met with courageous opposition.
We ask the international development community to support the call for removing Longid, and other falsely accused activists, from the Philippine Government’s list of “terrorists” and work toward protecting civic spaces most importantly, at the country levels.
We urge upon the Philippines to take urgent steps to immediately withdraw and delist Longid and other CSO leaders name, in the list of 600 individuals maliciously tagged as terrorists, with due recognition of their role as civil society representatives fully participating in democratic processes. # nordis.net