Stop political vilification of activists. Uphold people’s democratic rights

Press Release

12 March 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


Ms. Bestang Dekdeken

Cordillera Peoples Alliance
No. 55 Ferguson Road
Baguio City 2600, Philippines
Telephone No. +6374 4229754
Fax No. +6374 4437159
Email: cpa@cpaphils.org
Webpage: www.cpaphils.org
Facebook: Cordillera Peoples Alliance