It has come to our attention, based on the accounts of our neighbors in Barangay Hillside, Baguio City, that we, Jose Cawiding and Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding, have been under surveillance of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) since the month of September this year. We believe we are being “cased” preparatory to some form of physical assault, like what happened to our colleagues who have fallen victims of the death squads of the Arroyo administration. (Attached is a fact sheet detailing the conduct of the surveillance).
Joe is presently the coordinator of Bayan Muna for Benguet and serves as secretary of the Metro-Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Association (MBTELA). Jeannette is a Cordillera coordinator of COURAGE or the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees and sits as a member of the Council of Leaders of the Tongtongan ti Umili (People’s Assembly), the Baguio chapter of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA)
Even as we denounce this harassment and intimidation being inflicted upon us by the armed agents of the State, we would like to appeal for your support.
You may recall that the organizations we have been a part of have stood by and fought with you and the Baguio-Benguet community in the various issues we have faced together. Among these issues were the planned (mis)development of Camp John Hay by Tuntex, the Bulk Water Supply Project, the 2001 elections through the People’s Watch and the Jadewell parking system in Baguio. In the Cordillera region, we struggled against development aggression projects like the open pit mining expansion and the San Roque Dam construction, both affecting the Itogon community. MBTELA, for its part, has helped in resolving some tribal wars erupting between tribes in the Cordillera, especially when these adversely affects.
Together, we have also contributed to the Filipino people’s fight against policies and programs that have proven detrimental to the interests of the broad masses of the people like the oil deregulation law, the privatization of the power industry, the aborted Charter Change of the present administration and its allies and other similar issues.
Aside from these, we have also helped in the conduct of various education and training activities for the citizens of the city and other parts of the Cordillera who sought our help in their capacity-building programs.
We believe we have done nothing wrong and violated no law of the land. In fact, what we are doing benefits the people in their fight for justice, peace and genuine development. Unfortunately, some people in the present administration see things differently and they have usurped the God-like powers to decide who will live or die, thus the hundreds of victims of political killings, abductions, harassment and intimidations all over the country.
And so, we would like to appeal to you, our friends and ies, to join us in condemning the increasing incidents of human rights violation being perpetrated by the Arroyo regime and its agents upon the peace-loving citizens of our country.
More concretely, we ask you to please write letters of concern to the proper authorities so they will take concrete measures to put an end to all kinds of political repression and allow the citizens to exercise their rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
You can send your letters to the President Glorai Macapagal-Arroyo
Thank you very much for your support.
(Sgd.) Jose “Joe” Cawiding
(Sgd.) Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding