Our leaders are not terrorists, Duterte is

“Fighting for the rights of national minorities for self-determination is not an act of terror. Sowing chaos on our communities through bombings, massacres, forced evacuations and other forms of human rights violations – that is terrorism,” Sandugo co-chairperson Jerome Succor Aba said as the alliance received information that national minority leaders are included in the 600 individuals in a petition that the Duterte government seeks to be tagged as terrorists under the Human Security Act of 2007 .

“Sandugo strongly condemns the Duterte government for making such petition. It is malicious, fabricated and even ridiculous. It is meant to immobilize legitimate progressive organizations and to suppress nationwide clamor for just and lasting peace,” Aba said. “This is why the terror tagging included leaders of legal peoples organizations and members or consultants of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF),” Aba said.

“Included in the list are our leaders, our co-chairperson Joanna Cariño, council members Windel Bolinget, Beverly Longid and founding member Datu Isidro Indao. Other national minorities from Mindanao like Datu Mandayhon, Datu Mampadayag and Mamerto Guyanon are also listed who were actively opposing mining corporation and agribusiness plantations encroached in their ancestral lands,” Aba said. “They may be forced to face these trumped up charges but this will not dishearten our ranks and rather strengthen our resolve to fight for our legitimate rights and welfare,” Aba said.

“Amidst the intensifying military operations and state sanctioned plunder of big corporations in national minority communities, our people’s only option is to assert our collective rights, organize ourselves and defend our lands. Now we are subject to this witch-hunt with the threat of arrest and detention. But worst this imperils the lives not only of our leaders in the list but of other leaders and members of our organization,” Aba said.

“This Anti-Terror case filed by the DOJ’s also buries any chance of peace talks with NDFP. By tagging the CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorists, is also burying the possibility of the Duterte government to finally address the roots of civil war – the same evils that we, national minorities suffer from each day – landlessness, oppression, foreign dominance,” Aba said.

“We will not be cowed by the Duterte’s regime barefaced attack on our leaders and our legitimate struggles that is now tagged as an acts of terror. We, the national minorities together the rest of the struggling Filipino communities will not waver to defend our rights and fight the tyrannical and fascist rule of this regime. We will not hesitate, if pushed to the limit, to resist by taking up arms as a justifiable option to defend our freedom, land, rights and life,” Aba concluded. ###

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