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Hannibal Rhoades (

Philippines: CPA Statement on the Occasion of International Women Human
Rights Defenders Day

29 November 2017

Today, in commemoration of the International Women Human Rights
Defenders Day, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) pays its highest
tribute to all women activists who valiantly fight for women’s human
rights against all forms of discrimination, inequality, and economic and
political oppression. We especially honor women human rights defenders
who work tirelessly and selflessly to promote indigenous peoples’
collective rights to our lands, territories and resources against land
grabbing and plunder by the state and private corporations.

This year, as state fascism and tyranny continues to heighten in the
Philippines, indigenous peoples including women human rights defenders
in the Cordillera region are under attack by the military, particularly
the 5thand 7th Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Army. Since July,
the 81st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and the 71st
Division Reconnaissance Company under the 7th ID have filed trumped up
charges against different individuals including women human rights
defenders Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joanne Villanueva,
Rachel Mariano and Asia Isabella Gepte. All five women belong to legal
and legitimate organisations working for the promotion and respect of
indigenous peoples’ rights, delivering various services to indigenous
communities in the region, defending human rights, and resisting
corporate and destructive mining and energy projects. Sarah
Abellon-Alikes is a pioneer of the CPA.

The US-Duterte regime’s All Out War and counter-insurgency policy Oplan
Kapayapaan further intensified the militarization of indigenous
communities in the region, which only worsened human rights violations,
and especially threatening the lives and security of women human rights
defenders. Over the past few months, the 24th IBPA under the command of
Lt. Col. Thomas Dominic Baluga has constantly maligned women activists
Shirley Ann Angiwot, Theresa Forag and other members of KASTAN-CPA Abra
Chapter and threatening them with lawsuits. The persistent harassment
and intimidation of members of local peoples’ organizations especially
in Abra, Ifugao and Kalinga provinces, and the indiscriminate strafing
and illegal searches in residential houses continue to put at risk the
lives of IP activists and women human rights defenders.

There is a growing peoples’ resistance on state fascism and tyranny,
which was seen in the series of protest caravans during the past three
months, including the protest caravan led by indigenous peoples and Moro
people in September. In response, President Duterte plans on a crackdown
against left-leaning organizations on the basis of their alleged
conspiracy with communists, and arresting not only communist rebels but
also “all legal fronts aiding the left”. Duterte also issued
Proclamation 360 on November 23, which terminated the peace negotiations
between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic
Front of the Philippines. Peace has become obscured and human rights
have lost meaning and force under the current regime.

CPA condemns the US-Duterte regimes’ heightened attacks against
legitimate peoples’ organizations, including women human rights
defenders. We strongly denounce the regime’s attempt on strengthening
its fascist rule and tyranny through its so-called “revolutionary
government” which in essence is a de facto martial law as it further
intensifies state terror and fascist dictatorship. Under it, we expect
even more impunity and the vilest attacks against human rights
defenders. And alongside this is the regime’s iron fist in implementing
neoliberal policies, which further paves way for state and corporate
plunder of what remains in the country’s natural resources, including
more mining and energy operations in the Cordillera.

This situation calls for all peace-loving individuals and the civil
society to resolutely defend our human rights and democratic rights as
enshrined in the Philippine Constitution of 1987 and various
international conventions and agreements that the Philippine government
is a signatory of. We call on our fellow Igorots and indigenous peoples
to fiercely resist any violations to our collective rights to our
ancestral lands and resources and human rights.

Sign on to our call for the Philippine government to drop the trumped-up
charges against women human rights defenders in the Cordillera:

Watch our video:

The CPA also spoke on the situation of women human rights defenders in
the Cordillera and the Cordillera indigenous peoples’ struggle against
corporate mining and energy in the ongoing UN Forum on Business and
Human Rights in Geneva.

For reference:
Windel B. Bolinget