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Statement: Stop The Criminalisation Of Indigenous Rights Defender Windel Bolinget

2 February 2021
Manila, Philippines/Bogor, Indonesia/Rome, Italy

International Land Coalition Asia (ILC Asia) and the Global Secretariat of the International Land Coalition urgently request the Philippines government to drop the murder charge against indigenous rights defender, Windel Bolinget, who presented himself to the Philippine Bureau of Investigation (NBI) under the Department of Justice, after a “shoot-to-kill” order had been issued should he resist arrest. All the evidence suggests that the charges are trumped-up.

We condemn the criminalization against Bolinget, the Chairperson of ILC member organisation Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), for doing his peaceful work in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. We believe that this is a step to silence the voices of indigenous communities in the Philippines, who have been fighting for their rights against large-scale mining projects and other development projects that pose a threat to their land rights.

Since September 2020, Bolinget has been wrongly accused of killing a fellow indigenous rights defender Garito Tiklonay Malibato. The murder happened in March 2018 in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, a province that Bolinget has never set foot in. According to news reports, family members and colleagues of Malibato had pointed to Alamara, a paramilitary group linked to the military, as the one responsible for his death.

ILC is a global coalition of 250 multilateral and civil society member organisations based in 78 countries, of which 54 covering 13 countries are in Asia, including the Philippines. ILC supports our members who have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and ensure their role as custodians of our planet.

“The trumped-up charges against Windel are a clear attempt not only to silence him but to cripple the indigenous peoples' movement in defending the lands and resources against development aggression,” said Sarah Dekdekan, Secretary-General of CPA.

Together with our member organisations in the Philippines, we call on the Government of the Philippines:

  • To immediately drop all fabricated charges against Windel Bolinget and release the indigenous rights defender immediately.
  • To immediately stop the criminalisation, any act of violence and harassment against indigenous rights defenders, community leaders, and political activists.

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