Philippines: Unfounded terrorist accusations against dozens of human rights defenders

Urgent Appeal

PHL 001 / 0318 / OBS 032
Criminalisation / Threats /
March 19, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the unfounded terrorist accusations against dozens of human rights defenders.

According to the information received, on February 21, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition before the Manila Regional Court against more than 600 individuals, tagging them as terrorists under the Human Security Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9372), also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law, for to their alleged connection with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

The list comprises several prominent Filipino human rights defenders, including Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [1] Ms. Joan Carling, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on the Sustainable Development Goals, former Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Mr. Windel Bolinget, Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and National Co-Convenor of KATRIBU National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines; Ms. Joanna Cariño, member of CPA Advisory Council and Co-Chair of the SANDUGO Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination; Mr. Jose Molintas, human rights lawyer, former member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), and member of the CPA Advisory Council; Ms. Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator for the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and member of CPA Advisory Council; Ms. Jeanette Ribaya Cawiding, Regional Coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers - Cordillera; Mr. Sherwin De Vera, Regional Coordinator of DEFEND-Ilocos and member of the Save The Abra River Movement (STARM); Ms. Elisa Tita Lubi, Karapatan National Executive Committee member; Mr. Isidro Indao, Matigsalog-Manobo village chief, council member of the PASAKA Lumad Confederation in Southern Mindanao, and an active member of the Parent-Teacher Community Association of the Lumad school run by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.; Mr. Mandayhon Han-ayan, Talaandig village chief in Malaybalay, Bukid, and member of the PIGYAYONGAAN Lumad organization; Mr. Mandayhon, a Talaandig village chief and member of the PIGYAYONGAAN Lumad organization; Mr. Sergio Lumonday, Secretary General of Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa (TIKULPA), a local organisation standing against agri-business plantations and other corporate business interests in the area; Ms. Zara Alvarez, Research and Advocacy Officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP) and former Campaign and Education Director of Karapatan-Negros chapter; Mr. Romulo Bito-on, Regional Coordinator of Makabayan-Negros and member of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA); Ms. Rogina Navarro Quilop, Administrative Officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services (CPRS)-Negros; Mr. Isidro Castillo, former Chairperson of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW); Mr. Arnold Evangelista and Mr. Erlindo Baes, officers of the Batangas Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan.

Moreover, the list reportedly includes names of individuals already deceased or disappeared, including Ms. Kamil Manangan, former Gabriela Youth Spokesperson who was killed in November 2017, and Ms. Luisa Posa-Dominado, then SELDA Spokesperson who has been missing since April 12, 2007.

The Observatory strongly condemns these unfounded terrorist accusationsagainst the above-mentioned human rights defenders, which take place in a context of a surge of killings and attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines under President Duterte [2] and put their lives and safety at great risk and only aims at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory further recalls that under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 1946, UN experts have immunity from legal proceedings of every kind undertaken in the course of their mandated work.

The Observatory urges the authorities of the Philippines to remove the names of the above-mentioned human rights defenders from the list of alleged terrorists and to guarantee, in all circumstances, their physical and psychological integrity.

Actions requested

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of the above-mentioned defenders as well as all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Remove the names of the above-mentioned human rights defenders from the list of alleged terrorists;

iii. Put an end to any harassment against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, recognise that human rights defenders have a legitimate role to play in ensuring peace, justice and democracy, and therefore ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.


· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: or send message through
· Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Fax: +63 (2) 638 2216, Email:,
· Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense, Fax: +63(2) 982-5600, Email:,
· Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email:
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, Fax: (+632) 929 0102, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email:
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 02 345 64 25, E-mail:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Philippines located in your country.

Geneva-Paris, March 19, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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