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Int’l IP Group To CHR: Investigate False Charges Against IP Leader Bolinget, Human Rights Defenders

“We call on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to launch an investigation on the trumped-up case and shoot-to-kill order against Windel Bolinget, an Igorot leader and human rights defender belonging to the Bontok-Kankaey Indigenous People (IP) known for actively defending IP lands and communities against rampant plunder and militarization,” International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) said in a statement.

On Monday, the International IPMSDL joined Bayan, Katribu, Karapatan, and other organizations in a dialogue with the CHR regarding the trumped-up charges against Bolinget, Bayan’s Lutgardo “Boyette” Jurcales, Jr. and others.

IPMSDL Campaign Officer Carlo Manalansan stated that “these trumped up cases are plain judicial harassment by the Duterte government and all part of the grand design of the PNP to persecute human rights defenders and activists with dangerous implications on people’s rights, lives, and safety.”

Bolinget is the chair of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and lead convener of KATRIBU – National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, both local members of IPMSDL, where he also sits as one of its International Coordinating Council (ICC) members.

On 6 August 2020, the local police filed a murder case at Tagum City, Davao del Norte, against ten individuals, including Bolinget, for allegedly killing Garito Malibato, a member of a local IPorganisation called Karadyawan, on 21 March 2018.

“The ludicrous accusation and shocking “shoot-to-kill” order and bounty against Bolinget remains, even after his commitment to clear his name and by cooperating with the NBI, seems like an extrajudicial killing (EJK) order from the PNP. These clearly reflect the current government’s dictum against IP and human rights defenders,” Manalansan said.

The manhunt and a reward of one hundred thousand pesos (Php 100,000.00), with a qualifier “if he resists arrest”, was issued by Cordillera police chief Rwin Pagkalinawan against Bolinget for the immediate implementation of the arrest warrant.

“With the thousands murdered in cold blood by police officers under the “nanlaban” alibi of Oplan Tokhang and EJK of activists, Bolinget’s safety is in peril,” IPMSDL said.

“Bolinget’s work in defense of land, life and resources and as defender of human rights is an open book. His record of active work in the Cordillera and even in the international arena is a clear reason not to enforce the warrant against him pending the resolution of the motion for reinvestigation of this malicious and fabricated charge,” Manalansan added.

Also expressing alarm over the attacks on “civic freedoms and civil society and people’s organisations” or “the global pattern of shrinking civic space” in the Philippines is the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), one of the world’s largest civil society platforms. “Human rights defenders in the country are being targeted relentlessly and with impunity,” including Bolinget, CPDE’s statement said.

“We appeal to the CHR to take urgent action to emphasize that Windel , Boyette, and many other activists and rights defenders are not criminals or terrorists, especially at this time when the State, the police and military want to legalize such a narrative. The CHR and the world cannot turn a blind eye as the number of killed, illegally arrested, jailed and judicially harassed IP leaders and activists continue to rise day by day. ” added IPMSDL Bolinget, alongside IP leaders and groups, petitioned against the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.

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