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Home Press Release Four indigenous peoples’ rights defenders challenge their terrorist designation before Baguio court

Four indigenous peoples’ rights defenders challenge their terrorist designation before Baguio court

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Four indigenous peoples’ rights defenders challenge their terrorist designation before Baguio court
Four officers of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA) petitioned the Baguio City Regional Trial Court on November 23, 2023, in an effort to contest their terrorist designation. Windel Bolinget, chairman of the CPA, Sarah Alikes, a founding member, Jennifer Taggaoa, a member of the Research Commission, and Stephen Tauli, a member of the Regional Council, are the petitioners. (Photo credit: NUPL)

On November 23, 2023, four officers of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City to challenge their terrorist designation. The petitioners are CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget, founding member Sarah Alikes, Research Commission member Jennifer Taggaoa, and Regional Council member Stephen Tauli.

The four CPA officers were designated by the Anti Terrorism Council (ATC) under its Resolution No. 41 (2023) dated June 7, 2023 pursuant to paragraph 3, Section 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

As a result, their personal bank accounts and those of their relatives and even of the CPA were ordered frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. They earlier questioned the basis for their designation before the ATC, but to no avail, leaving them and their families to suffer the consequences of their designation without meaningful administrative remedy.

“The grievous consequences of designation, which are not limited to asset freezing, encroach upon our clients’ basic rights and freedoms. Their case demonstrates the urgent need to revisit and declare the ATC’s power of administrative designation as unconstitutional,” NUPL President Atty. Ephraim Cortez says.

The petitioners seek to invalidate the said mode of designation under the third paragraph, Section 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Law on the ground that it deprives designees of their constitutional right to due process and access to adequate remedies. Even the basis for designation is considered classified information and cannot be disclosed for scrutiny.

It can be recalled that in the petitions that earlier challenged the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Supreme Court declared the second mode of designation (adoption of designation by other jurisdictions and supranational jurisdictions) as unconstitutional. While the third mode of designation was held not unconstitutional, such ruling was without prejudice to the possibility of questioning its constitutionality in an actual case.

“Our clients are asserting that the power of designation is being abused and weaponized against rights defenders, including indigenous peoples’ rights activists like them who have been defending their ancestral domains and exercising their right to self-determination,” Atty. Cortez adds.

They are assisted by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers in collaboration with Baguio lawyers Atty. Jose Molintas, Atty. Reynaldo Cortes, Atty. Francisca Claver and Atty. Jennifer Asuncion and their young colleagues, along with environmental and IP rights lawyers from The Klima Center of the Manila Observatory, Atty. Antonio LaViña and Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate.

Reference:

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez

NUPL President

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