Cordillera: Freedom of Assembly Restricted
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance is deeply alarmed over the labeling of the Martial Law protest action on September 21, 2015 as a crime. Nonetheless, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and Tongtongan Ti Umili are committed to advocate nonviolently for the human rights of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
Below is an article published by Cordillera Peoples Alliance:
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is deeply alarmed over the labeling of the Martial Law protest action on September 21, as a crime by the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCOR) in its journal sent to media. This labeling by PROCOR is a reminiscent of the fascist mindset of police and State security forces to consider protest a crime during the dark years of Martial Law. This is a very dangerous precedent and must be stopped immediately.
How could the BCPO and PROCOR label peaceful protest actions as crimes? As peace and law enforcers, BCPO and PROCOR should know better. We are not in a state of declared Martial Law. Furthermore, the 1987 Philippine Constitution clearly guarantees freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
Given these basis, we do not understand where the police is coming from. The protest action yesterday led by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and Tongtongan Ti Umili was a strong statement on the 43rd anniversary of Martial Law to remember and continue to call for justice and indemnification of victims and survivors who suffered during the dictatorship. The protest action was also a public event to educate the wider public and the younger generation on the horrors of Martial Law. More importantly, the protest action yesterday highlighted the big role people’s movement in fighting against State repression and oppression.
This derogatory labeling against legitimate peoples actions should be corrected. We call on BCPO and PROCOR to immediately stop labeling peoples protest actions as crimes. Furthermore, BCPO and PROCOR should stop doing surveillance and harassment during activities and gathering of people’s organizations and advocates advancing the issues of peace, human rights, indigenous peoples, environment, health and more. Instead, we challenged BCPO and PROCOR should step up their investigation and crime prevention to ensure safe and peaceful communities in the City and in the region.
Photo courtesy by Aldwin Quitasol