March 12, 2015  The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) and the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) raise our strong concern over the heightened political vilification against community organizers, members and leaders of people’s organizations by suspected State security forces in Ifugao province. Pictures of active members of people’s organizations and community organizers are being circulated in certain social media groups in Ifugao that are labeled with malicious, baseless and libelous statements that these people are members and sympathizers of the New People’s Army. This is clearly an act of political vilification which violates basic rights to life, liberty, security and due process of individuals and organizations. This is not the first time that IPM, its members and officers are targeted for political vilification. In October 2012, a Target List released by the 86th Infantry Battalion surfaced in Tinoc, Ifugao. The Target List bore names of 28 individuals that are members of people’s organizations and residents of Ifugao. William Bugatti was on this list before he was extra judicially killed on March 25, 2014.  In February 2014, posters with the heading “Rupa Ken Nagan ti NPA nga Agsusuweldo” (Faces and Names of the New People’s Army Receiving Salaries) were posted in the market and waiting sheds of different municipalities in Ifugao by suspected State security forces and their agents. The posters unjustly tagged leaders of people’s organizations, including the CPA, IPM and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, and party lists as enemies of the people. The IPM firmly believes that the continuing political vilification against its organizations, members and leaders is a desperate move by suspected state security forces and proponents of big energy projects to silence the people in their defense and assertion of their basic rights over their ancestral lands and natural resources. Those behind this political vilification are deliberately hiding their true identities under fake names. In all the internet posts, fictitious names are used to malign IPM, its members, leaders and advocates of environment, human rights and indigenous peoples. The perpetrators are afraid of their own shadows and cannot even stand by their accusations. Who would have the interest and capacity to spend time creating fake names on social media, tailing people on their daily activities, secretive taking of photos of innocent individuals and posting in social media, and making graphics to forward its narrow and dim-witted ideas? The Ifugaos are hard-working people and would spend their time trying to make ends meet rather than involving themselves into these dirty tricks. The answer is clear. Only state security forces and their agents have the motive, and spending time and people’s money to support these forms of political vilification. History and past experiences reinforce this trend of political vilification. The accusations against IPM and advocates of environment and human rights as members, supporters and even calling them as enemies of the peoples are a product of concocted lies and unfounded facts by suspected intelligence operatives of state security forces in their attempts to discredit progressive organizations and individuals. As a matter of fact, IPM as a peasant organization is actively campaigning and raising awareness in communities especially on the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in affected areas of proposed energy projects in Ifugao particularly in the municipality of Tinoc. In other areas, the IPM has been organizing and assisting farmers in strengthening their capacities and indigenous practices for self-reliance, cooperation and sustainable agriculture. These activities and services are much needed and appreciated by our farmers especially in far-flung communities which always experience government neglect in providing basic social services. Organizing and forming grassroots organizations and capacity building activities for peasants and communities are not crimes. These are noble contributions for a better society. CPA and IPM continue to stand firm and resolute especially during difficult times when our members and leaders are politically vilified and even killed. For as long as we are oppressed and exploited, people and communities openly embrace to work for genuine change, and CPA and IPM are committed to be at their sides. No amount of political vilification and other forms of violations can stop the people from rising for social change. As peace loving people, we enjoin individuals and organizations in condemning the political vilification perpetrated by suspected state security agents. In a so-called democratic government, it is ironic that suspected state agents vilify individuals and organizations because of their political orientation and beliefs. It is correct that we cannot agree on all things but as people we should be open more for discourse rather than vilifying individuals and organizations. Lastly, we call on President Aquino to scrap Oplan Bayanihan, a national security policy that perpetuates political vilification and other forms of human rights violations committed against civilians and communities especially those who are asserting and defending their rights. *** For reference: Jude Baggo Public Information Officer

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