LAGAWE, Ifugao – The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR) deferred passing a resolution urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop the ‘terrorist tag’ against seven Cordilleran human and indigenous peoples’ rights defenders.
However, the RDC-CAR and RPOC-CAR authorized the chairman of both bodies, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, to write a letter to the DOJ seeking clarification on the basis on why the 7 Cordilleran human and indigenous peoples’ rights advocates were included in the over 600 individuals around the country who were tagged as ‘terrorist’ because of their alleged involvement in the activities of left-leaning organizations.
Police and military officers present during the meeting requested that the basis on the declaration of the 7 Cordillerans as ‘terrorists’ should be provided by the DOJ because they do not have in their possession the reasons why the said personalities were included in the assailed ‘terrorist’ list of the present administration.
Even representatives of the National Intelligence Coordinating Council (NICA-CAR) claimed that the grounds for the declaration of the said individuals as ‘terrorists’ did not pass the evaluation and assessment of the agency, thus, it should be the DOJ that will explain the details of the said declaration.
Earlier, 7 Cordillerans, who are said to be defender of human and IP rights, were among over 600 individuals which the DOJ tagged as ‘terrorists,’ namely Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Jose Molintas, Joana Cariño, Wendel Farag-ey Bolinget, Joan Carling, Beverly Sacungan Longid and Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding.
The deferred resolution said Cordillerans are reportedly passionate in the pursuit of their advocacies for the rights of the indigenous peoples and on local and international human rights matters.
According to the proposed resolution, the inclusion of their names in the ‘terrorist’ list has put their lives and those of their families and loved ones in danger.
It can be recalled that the City Council of Baguio City passed Resolution No. 092, series of 2018 entitled “Urging the Government of the Philippines to drop the ‘terrorist’ tag against Corpuz, Molintas, Cariño, Bolinget, Sacungan-Longid and Cawiding, all human defenders and residents of Baguio City.
During the dialogue on Cordillera peace and development last May 02, 2018 in Baguio City, the participants appealed that the RDC-CAR petition the DOJ for the immediate dropping of the ‘terrorist’ against the same people.
Police and military authorities want the DOJ to issue the needed basis on their declaration as ‘terrorists’ before the resolution could be passed so that this basis can be assessed and evaluated prior to the submission of the formal resolution to the concerned national leaders for their information and further needed action.
The proposed resolution will still be subjected to further study by the concerned committee of the two bodies while awaiting the DOJ action on the matter.
By Dexter A. See