The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is extremely concerned over the brazen harassment of its Vice Chairperson for Internal Affairs, Mr. Xavier Akien, in the morning of April 6, 2016. Akien and his wife noticed that the car Akien was driving was being followed by at least two vans and two motorcycles while they were on their way home from a supermart in Baguio City. Having observed the suspicious tailing of the said vans and motorcycles, Akien proceeded to the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station to report the incident. And recently on April 13, 2016, Akien was again tailed by some men and took photos of him in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet while buying bread for a funeral wake.
According to Akien, “On April 6, 2015 before noon, my wife and I went to a grocery mart in Baguio City to buy needs for our household. After purchasing the goods, we proceeded to our car which was parked at the basement of the grocery mart. Before pulling out from the parking space, I observed that a van was parked near us but I assumed that it was just waiting for us to leave and it can use the vacated space. But as we were exiting the establishment, the same van started to tail us.”
“When we were on the road going to Harrison, I observed again the same van tailing us. I decided to pull over along the road. The van passed us. But to my surprise, when we passed before the University of the Cordilleras, I saw the same van parked on the side of the road and then it followed us. Later on along the road, I observed two more motorcycles and another van following us on our way to La Trinidad,” said Akien.
“Sensing danger, we decided to proceed directly to the La Trinidad Municipal Police to report and seek assistance. To our surprise, the two vans and two motorcycles followed us to the police station. The two motorcycle drivers and their back riders were apprehended by the police. Based from the initial investigation by the police, the apprehended motorcycle drivers have no identifications at all. They even gave an unbelievable reason for following me by saying that they were looking for a job. It is clearly a handiwork of the military,” added Akien.
Because of the incidents, Akien said that, “Madanaganak unay iti seguridad ko. Dagiti harassment ken dadduma pay a porma ti panaglabsing iti karbengan tao kontra kadagiti miembro ken lideres ti peoples organizations ket maisardeng kuman. Saan kami a kriminal, dakami ket aktibista laeng. Basol aya ti ag-organisa ken agmobilisa kadagiti tattao ken komunidad tapno isuda mismo ti mangkita ken mangtulong iti kasasaadda? (I am very concerned over my security. Harassments and other forms of human rights violations against members and leaders of peoples’ organizations must be stopped. We are no criminals, we are just activists. Is it a crime to organize and mobilize people and communities for them to participate in solving their own problems and improving their situation?”)
Akien further said that, “Pinag iinitan nila ang CPA because of its campaigns and activities for environmental protection especially against mining and energy, for indigenous people’s rights, on disaster response and for sustainable development. This kind of human rights violation is not new to CPA and its leaders. And this is not the first time that I experienced being subjected to surveillance and harassment. In our experience, the State will do everything to suppress the growing people’s resistance against the entry of big and destructive projects in our communities.”
“But we will not be cowed by these attempts of the State to stop what we are doing. It is but right to serve the people and there is nothing wrong with it. CPA since its establishment in 1984 has been in the forefront of the peoples struggle for the defense of land, life, and resources. We will always be inspired by our people, heroes and martyrs to continue this noble task,” ended by Akien.
CPA strongly believes that the incident is not an isolated case but part of the Oplan Bayanihan of the BS Aquino regime in his final attempt to silence people’s dissent before the end of his term. We condemn this act of harassment, and call for an immediate investigation of the incident.