Press Statement: February 23, 2021
Moro and IP groups petitioners vs ATA demand release falsely accused co-petitioners
We, organizations of Moro and Indigenous Peoples and their advocates who filed the petition GR252904 demand to drop trumped up charges against our co-petitioners Chad Booc and Windel Bolinget.
Chad Booc is a volunteer teacher for the Lumad Bakwit School in Cebu. The Bakwit School was housed at the University of San Carlos–Talamban campus. On February 16, PNP Regional Office 7, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and paramilitary group Alamara forcibly took into their custody the 17 minors and arrested two teachers, including Booc, two elders and two adult students. Those arrested are charged with kidnapping and child abuse.
This has been the result of many years of AFP’s targeting the self-established Lumad schools through harassment and intimidation of paramilitary groups like Alamara. Despite having certifications and even awards from the Department of Education (DepEd) in previous years, the AFP made DepEd as an accomplice to issue closure orders on Lumad schools in Mindanao. It was teacher Chad, who, despite the risks, sacrificed a bright future after graduating in University of the Philippines-Diliman, to teach the Lumad youth and let them pursue an education. Booc, in return, received no recognition from the state but red tagging and threats.
He knew that with the enactment of the Anti-Terror Law, harassment against him and against the school will worsen.
In January 2021, a shoot to kill order for another co-petitioner of GR252904, Windel Bolinget, was issued by Police Regional Office Cordillera Director R’win Pagkalinawan “kung manlaban.” Bolinget and ten other individuals, most of whom are activists in Northern Luzon, are facing a warrant of arrest for the alleged murder of Lumad Garito Tiklonay Mabato in 2018 . Mabato was a victim of extrajudicial killing by the paramilitary group Alamara, killed in an incident in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Southern Mindanao. Bolinget, a native of Mountain Province, has never set foot in that area. Before this charge, Bolinget was also a subject of terror-tagging by army trolls in social media. They went as far as threatening Bolinget’s family members. In order to escape threats to his life, Bolinget was forced to seek protective custody to the National Bureau of Investigation and prove his innocence in court.
Booc, Bolinget are clear examples of how Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will affect indigenous communities. Simple education of indigenous peoples’ rights or a mere community organizing to pursue sustainable development among tribes can be equated as acts of terror. Mere opposition to destructive projects can be a reason for red-tagging and eventual arrest and detention, threat to life and security . We fear that with ATA, the violence happening in our communities now, will worsen.
Just as we have predicted, with the “IP-centric” and “Whole-of-Nation” counterinsurgency strategy, national minorities / Indigenous Peoples are the first victims of the Duterte administration’s ATA. Aytas Jay Garung and Junior Ramos are the first to face terrorism charges under the new Anti-Terrorism Law. After being tortured and interrogated for six straight days by elements of the 73rd Infantry Division, both are currently detained at the Olongapo City Jail.
Historically, the national minorities andIndigenous Peoples have suffered neglect, discrimination and displacement in order for the state and profit driven corporation to plunder natural resources seated at the very ancestral lands of the Moro and indigenous peoples. Since the enactment of the Regalian Doctrine, which puts the whole of the Philippines to the ownership of the Spanish king, the tribes who fought and refused to be assimilated by the colonizer were pushed to the farthest mountains.What remains of their territories are still the subject of exploitation to the present times.
We fear that ATA’s scheme of criminalizing activists will become worse. With the eradication of the role of the judiciary in arresting and detaining persons, or holding them incommunicado, protection of human rights will also be eradicated. Severe human rights violations like torture, enforced disappearances and killings can happen under the radar during those long days of captivity in the hands of the Anti-Terrorism Council.
Neoliberal policies combined with draconian laws, such as the ATA, will surely drive us, national minorities (Moro and Indigenous peoples, away from our ancestral lands and pave way for more destruction of the environment and our eventual ethnocide.
So, to follow our tradition in defence of our lands and communities, we assert our right to self-determination and repudiate the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. We call for the immediate halt of implementation of this law as many more of our leaders, members of tribes and even advocates may be victimized next. ###
Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination
Katribu – Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas
BAI Indigenous Women
Cordillera People Alliance
Save Our Schools Network
Moro-Christian Peoples Aliance
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization
Moro Concensus Group
Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development
Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination is an alliance of Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples’ organizations. We aim to protect ancestral territories and advance the right to determine our own lifeways.
Sandugo office is located at Room 304 National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
879 EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City 1104, Philippines.
You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via www.sandugo.org.