Detained Higaonon leader among petitioners vs Anti-Terror Law

Aug. 11, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – One of the petitioners to the Supreme Court to declare the Anti-Terrorism Act is a lumad leader in Bukidnon who is detained and facing trumped-up charges and was previously charged with committing “acts of terrorism” under the Human Security Act.

Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Lumad Organization in Northern Mindanao, was arrested with peasant leader Ireneo Ubarde while aboard a jeep in Cagayan de Oro on January 28, 2019.

Goaynon, a Higaonon leader who has vocally stood up against militarization, mining, and plantation plunder in Northern Mindanao, was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, along with charges of attempted murder, frustrated murder, and rebellion. He was tagged as a “top leader of the New People’s Army”.

READ:Lumad,peasant leaders abducted,not arrested by CIDG,group claims

He was also charged for violation of the Human Security Act, the law that is now replaced by the Anti-Terrorism Act.

All the charges were later dismissed by the court for lack of merit, but Goaynon still remains in jail in Malaybalay, Bukidnon facing other charges of kidnapping, robbery, and arson, charges that his counsel, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao said are trumped up to silence Lumad leaders.

Goaynon’s case shows how the extent of red-tagging by the military and the Anti-Terrorism Act makes legitimate struggles of the indigenous peoples become “illegal”.

“Calling us terrorists or criminals discredits our struggles’ legitimacy and undermines our right to self-determination to participate and voice our opinion ini matters that affect us,” said Beverly Longid, a Cordillera leader.

Longid is also a global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and is among the indigenous and Moro leaders who filed a petition before the Supreme Court last August 7. (link story)

Longid’s organization, the IPMDSL, noted that “human rights violations and criminalization of dissent is at its worst in the Philippines, which ranked as the worst place in Asia for land and environment defenders, and second in the world.”

“Aside from criminalization and trumped-up charges, many of our comrades have been extra-judicially killed and forcibly disappeared. Our cases you’ll hear today cannot overemphasize the terror law’s danger to our safety and security,” said Longid.

Longid herself has been tagged as a terrorist in smear campaigns by the state. She was among the 600 persons tagged in a petition by the Department of Justice to be declared as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as terrorists. The case against her and other indigenous leaders were later dropped.

With the recent commemoration of the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 8, the petitioners demand the government to uphold the rights of the indigenous and justice for victims of discrimination and attacks.(

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