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Defend Windel: Stop the Attacks on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines!

January 21, 2021
References: Grace Caligtan & Yoko Liriano |

The Hawai’i Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (HICHRP) denounces the attacks on indigenous peoples in the Philippines!

On January 20, 2021, while people in the US were rejoicing the end of the Trump era,
indigenous peoples in the Philippines were experiencing business as usual under the fascist
Duterte regime. On this very day, the Cordillera Police issued a “shoot to kill” order on the
Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Windel Bolinget.
Windel, a long-time indigenous rights defender and environmental activist, has been under
constant police surveillance and harassment since December of last year when a case was filed for trumped up murder charges. His case raises concern because his warrant was filed in Mindanao, an island located at the southern end of the country and in a province where he had never even visited. Windel’s situation demonstrates the fascist government’s blatant disregard for human rights and due process. It has become a predictable and disturbing pattern of creating trumped up charges against activists, particularly indigenous peoples fighting for their ancestral domain in the face of development projects by large multinational corporations.

This comes on the heels of the Tumandok Massacre wherein 9 indigenous peoples were killedand 17 arrested in Panay during a joint operation of the Philippine police and army (PNP and AFP) that was conducted on New Years Eve. The Tumandok communities were protesting various development projects such as the Jalaur Megadam which would displace tens of thousands of indigenous peoples. Prior to the massacre, the leaders were harassed and red-tagged, just as what is happening to Cordillera land defenders.
Indigenous activists in the Philippines are no stranger to repression--organizations like CPA
were born out of the struggle to defend their ancestral lands, decades ago.

Larry Lai, a Taiwanese graduate student at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, has conducted research on Indigenous resistance in the Cordillera region. “I began to spend time with CPA and their allied grassroots organizations since 2014. Before I knew him, Windel had already dedicated himself to international networking with the Indigenous people in Taiwan. Countless Indigenous activists were inspired by him, and even invited him to Taiwan several times, to understand how he learns from, stands with, and fights for the people.” Larry is also a member of Anakbayan Hawai’i, actively connecting his research with the collective action of Filipino youth and students in Hawai’i.

Paola Rodelas, who is Kankanaey and Bontoc, is a community organizer with UNITE HERE
Local 5 in Hawaii. She said, “I first learned about the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in 2009 when I was in college and was doing a project on Igorot resistance against the Chico River dam. This was my first time learning about my indigenous roots and was feeling lost on where to even begin learning about this. CPA provided me resources detailing our people’s work to protect our land and culture and were even willing to meet with me. I’ll forever be grateful to the CPA for passing down this knowledge to me and fueling the community organizing work that I do today. This is not the first time the Duterte regime has targeted indigenous organizers and it won’t be the last if we don’t speak out and act now to stop it.”

“Many of us share concern for the safety of Windel and other indigenous activists. Over and over again, the AFP and PNP act with impunity and have murdered people without due process. As descendents from Northern Luzon and the Cordillera, now living in Hawaii, not only do we see this is as unconscionable, but it is our duty to stand with those closest to those protecting the land in both
our homes and places that we love,” said HICHRP member, Grace Caligtan, who is a
Kankanaey/Ilokana community health worker living in Kalihi.
In Hawaii, the use of police and militarized state forces have also been used against Kanaka Maoli protectors while defending wahi pana (sacred places) and sacred lands like Kahoʻolawe and Mauna Kea. We know this pattern all too well.

Ikaika Hussey, a grassroots leader in the Hawaiian independence movement for 25 years and an organizer with UNITE HERE Local 5 shared these words in solidarity, “Hawai’i and the Philippines are islands in a shared sea, standing united against the same forces of empire, greed, and violence. We stand with Windel, and call upon others to do the same.”
We in HICHRP ask that you contact your representatives and express your indignation with the human rights situation in the Philippines, especially regarding the harassment, arrest and
murder of indigenous peoples across the country. We must urge them to support the Philippine Human Rights Act, which would suspend US military aid to the Philippines until state forces
such as the PNP and AFP stop committing these horrid human rights violations and are held
accountable for their crimes.

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HiCHRP Statement of Unity

HiCHRP STATEMENT OF UNITY Adopted 8.29.2019 The Hawaii Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, in unity with ICHRP-US, stands with the Filipino people’s struggle for peace, genuine land reform,


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