By AUDREY BELTRAN, VICE CHAIRPERSON, CORDILLERA HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE
May 21, 2018
The proposed profiling of Baguio residents to counter radicalism and terrorism poses serious threats to human rights and may cause the further discrimination of the Moro migrants and other people in the city, considering the stereotypes on certain ethnic and religious groups and activists that is worsened by misinformation and attacks under a fascist regime.
For mere suspicion of “terrorism”, will they subject everyone or anyone to unwarranted scrutiny, background checks, and surveillance? This would clearly violate basic rights such as the right to free expression, association, mobility, privacy and against different forms of discrimination. Profiling may be used by the people in power to intimidate, harass, arbitrarily arrest, or restrain known critics, oppositions and activists. This makes it a potential component for imminent martial law – an obvious direction being taken on by the current Duterte regime. Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) denounce terrorism and we also encourage the people to be vigilant against terrorist threats, most especially if the State itself is implementing it. Human rights and the fundamental and democratic rights and freedoms of the people should not be compromised.
Defining terrorism these days is contentious because no less than the government is branding legitimate people’s dissent as ”terrorism”. Through different campaigns by State institutions exemplified by the DOJ Terrorist Proscription list, people’s organizations like the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its affiliate organizations are labelled as “enemies of the State” and are thus, targets of attacks. We fear the intensification of extrajudicial killings, harassment, intimidation, trumped-up charges and other human rights violations, done with impunity. The recorded profile will make it easier to target critics of the Duterte regime’s abuse of power, thus, resulting to a narrowed democratic space.
We reiterate that activism is not terrorism. In February this year, the Department of Justice filed a petition with the intent to brand CPA leaders as “terrorists.” In fact, this is State terrorism as it is sowing terror and widespread fear among the people.
We highly commend the resolutions passed by the Baguio City Council, Sagada Municipal Council, Mountain Province Provincial Board, and statements of the Council of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and many other organizations, which proves that CPA and individual activists are not terrorists. We urge these local institutions to persist in asserting human people’s rights as this is a continuing and trying process. We challenge the Baguio City Council and Mayor Domogan to withdraw the plans on profiling as a concrete measure.
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