“We welcome the court’s decision on Betty’s case and the upholding of truth and justice. This proves once again the non-existence of the police’s credibility.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Igorot woman leader Beatrice Belen was released from prison today, Feb. 12 in Tabuk City, Kalinga after the court dismissed yesterday the charges against her.
Belen, a leader of Innabuyog-Kalinga, the local chapter of women’s Gabriela was arrested on October 25, 2020 after the police raided several houses in their community. She was eventually charged with illegal possession of explosives.
Several groups welcomed the dismissal of her case.
“We welcome the court’s decision on Betty’s case and the upholding of truth and justice. This proves once again the non-existence of the police’s credibility,” said Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in a statement.
Belen’s counsel is Catherine Salucon of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer in Cordillera.
In a statement, Anakbayan-Cordillera said that the dismissal of Belen’s case and two others arrested on December 10, 2020 proved the innocence of activists who are continuously persecuted by the state forces.
“This scheme of filing fabricated charges against activists by the fascist Duterte regime is a desperate measure of weaponizing the law to silence dissent and frustrate the ever-growing people’s resistance,” the group said.
Belen was also red-tagged by the military before she was arrested. She has been leading her community in defending their right to ancestral domain, and opposing the entry of destructive dam projects into their territories.
The CPA said that filing trumped-charges against the Cordillera activists is one of the government’s ways to stop them from opposing the entry of government sanctioned corporate mining operations and environmentally destructive energy projects.
“Under the guise of counter-insurgency, the military and police serve as investment security forces of corporations hence the militarization of communities with strong opposition to corporate interests in their ancestral domains and the criminalization of their leaders,” the group said.
Anakbayan-Cordillera reiterated the call to dismiss charges against CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget and CPA Secretary General Sarah Dekdeken.