The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) condemns the arrest on January 30, 2023, of Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) staff Jennifer Awingan. She was arrested at her home after being served a warrant on the charge of rebellion or insurrection, which are classified as “non-bailable”.
ICHRP also condemns the warrant which named eight other people also to be arrested on the same charges. The eight include CPA Regional Council member and torture survivor Steve Tauli, CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget who was previously detained on fabricated charges in 2021, Northern Dispatch correspondent Niño Oconer, peasant leader Lourdes Jimenez and development workers Sarah Abellon and Florence Kang.
These nine individuals were denied their right to an inquest proceeding at which they could hear the particulars of the case alleged against them and have the chance to rebut them.
In January 2021, Windel Bolinget was hit with a preposterous charge of murder in a place he had never visited at the southern end of the country, and threatened with a “shoot-to-kill” order by Cordillera Police. He had to surrender to a separate police agency while lawyers established that he had no case to answer, which took until July 2021.
The CPA has been an effective community-based organisation for indigenous communities to resist massive development aggression projects on their ancestral lands. This is the underlying reason for the killings, persecution and harassment of their leaders over many years.
At the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines on November 14, 2022, Just Secretary Remulla claimed that human rights in the Philippines were fully protected by an independent judiciary and well-trained police. The true picture is exposed in this latest judicial assault on the CPA leaders, with reckless charges that these unarmed civilian activists who use all available democratic processes to assert the rights of their communities are actually armed guerrilla fighters.
The warrant was issued by the Regional Trial Court in Bangued, Abra.
ICHRP urges the international community join our call for the immediate release of Jennifer Awingan, and the cancellation of the phoney arrest warrant for all nine people named.
ICHRP urges the international community to support the current investigation of the Duterte administration by the International Criminal Court, and to take more action to politically, militarily and economically isolate the Marcos Jr administration until basic human rights are genuinely upheld in the country.