UN experts grateful to Cordillera support versus terrorist tag

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BAGUIO CITY  – Two indigenous experts officials of the United Nations (UN), who are natives of the Cordillera, expressed their gratitude to all local governments in the region that passed resolutions that denounced the terrorist tag against them by the justice department.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Joan Carling, a former indigenous expert member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, visited the members of the local legislative body during their regular session last Monday to personally express their gratitude to the support of the local government and the people against the terrorist tag on them by the justice department.

Earlier, a Manila-based court dismissed the terrorist tag imposed on Tauli and human rights lawyer Jose Molintas for lack of probable cause while Carling and other Cordillerans who were included in the terrorist tag filed a similar motion for the dismissal of the same on the same grounds.

“The support shown by the local government and other local governments in the region, like Sagada and Mountain Province, only shows the importance of the communities where we come from in vouching for our integrity and credibility as responsible citizens. It also shows that people who are being maligned could seek the help of the communities where they come from for the needed support to negate false accusations hurled against them,” Ms. Corpuz stressed.

Previously, seven Cordillerans, including Tauli and Carling, were included in the alleged terrorist list released by the justice department for reportedly being staunch allies of the Communist Party of the Philippines–New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) because the groups that previously belong to are linked with the communist movement.

However, the local governments of Baguio, Sagada town and the Mountain Province provincial governments passed separate resolutions that denounced the terrorist tag against the 7 Cordillerans, claiming that those who were included in the government’s questionable terrorist list are merely human rights and indigenous peoples rights advocates who had been working with the mainstream society over the past several decades.

The passed resolutions denouncing the terrorist take against the 7 Cordillerans were transmitted to the justice department for the government’s information, guidance and further action and for the eventual removal of the terrorist tag against the natives of the Cordillera who were included in the controversial terrorist list.

Carling also expressed her gratitude to local officials of Baguio, Sagada and Mountain Province for having stood behind them when they were unjustly tagged as terrorists by the justice department, saying that it is heart-warming to know that local officials and the Cordillerans are concerned about the welfare of their colleagues who are being maligned by the government that is supposed to protect them through the use of its vast resources.

Both UN experts urged the local legislatures in the different parts of the region to sustain what they are doing in fighting for the rights of the people who are being unjustly treated to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents that might affect the integrity and credibility of innocent individuals who are being tagged as terrorists.

By Dexter A. See

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