Despite the mantra of the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte that change is coming, there is no let-up in the continuing human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples rights and environmental defenders in the Cordillera region. In recent months, members and leaders of local chapters of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) continue to experience various forms of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killing, harassment, political vilification and threats. We call on President Duterte to heed his promise of change and put an end to the human rights violations.
In Abra, Ronald Gustillo, the Public Information Officer of Kakailian Salakniban Nagtaudan a Daga (KASTAN), the CPA local chapter in the province received threatening text messages from an unnamed source during the last week of July 2016.
In Ifugao, Brandon Lee and other leaders and staff of the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), the provincial chapter of CPA continue to experience heightened harassment by suspected State agents. More so, the inclusion of two local farmers’ organizations in Tinoc, Ifugao in the municipal drug list calls for strong condemnation.
In Kalinga, the continuing military operations and encampment of military elements in the communities of the Uma tribe in Lubuagan; Asibanglan, Pinukpuk and Tanglag, Lubuagan resulted to numerous cases of human rights violations. In July 9, 2016, Joaquin Cadaclan Gunnawa, 29 years old and a resident of Mabaka, Tanudan was extra judicially killed by unnamed members of the 503rd IBPA based in Calanan, Tabuk. Again in the month of July 2016, a case of fake surrender was reported when at least eight members of the Uma tribe were projected by the 503rd IBPA as New People’s Army (NPA) returnees.
Other reported human rights cases in Kalinga include indiscriminate firing, damage to agricultural crops, anti-social activities, illegal census by the army, use of children to buy supplies and harassment against the leaders of local people’s organizations. The 503rd IBPA is also issuing “invitation” to local elders and leaders to “clear” their names at the barracks starting last July 2016. Due to the military operation and encampment, it is affecting the peace, security, livelihood and economic activities of the Kalinga communities.
Clearly, these cases prove that human rights violations continue to escalate in the region despite having a new administration. We reiterate our call to President Duterte to address these human rights violations in the region by pulling out State military troops in the communities and upholding indigenous people’s rights over their ancestral lands and resources. ***
Deputy Secretary General