Bantay Kita strongly condemns the tagging of indigenous peoples rights defenders as terrorists. We stand in solidarity with our fellow advocates in asserting our rights to express and assemble.
The Philippine Government through the Department of Justice has drawn up a list of over 600 “terrorists” based on the Section 17 of the Human Security Act of 2007. The list includes indigenous rights defenders like Beverly Longid, current member of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Advisory Council member, and Windel Bolinget, CPA Chairperson and National Co-convener of KATRIBU national alliance of indigenous peoples, among others.
Bantay Kita, a national coalition of over 80 organizations pursuing natural resource governance reforms, has worked in partnership or in parallel with CPA and KATRIBU. We have coordinated on minerals governance initiatives in the Cordillera, as mines operate within the IP’s ancestral domains. We assert these individuals are rights activists, not terrorists. Indiscriminately tagging advocates as “terrorists” impedes their work and further disenfranchises the communities that they serve. It maligns their reputation, but moreover, puts them, their families, and those they associate with in danger.
We are deeply troubled that the on-going government efforts creates an environment of fear to express and associate. These are basic tenets of freedom engrained in our Constitution. The fear further constricts the already narrow civic space.
Bantay Kita demands that the Government uphold the fundamental freedoms and guarantee safe spaces to express, organize and affiliate.