Cordillera activist arrested, 8 others charged with rebellion

“We condemn the continuing weaponization of the law that is used to arrest and detain activists without bail. No due process was observed in this case as the respondents say that they were not duly informed of the case.”


MANILA – A staff of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) was arrested by the police today, January 30.

According to Baguio-based media outfit Northern Dispatch, Jennifer Awingan of CPA Research Commission was arrested for rebellion.

A warrant of arrest was issued January 24 by Regional Trial Court Branch 2 Presiding Judge Corpus B. Alzate for Awingan and eight others namely: CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget, CPA Regional Council member Steve Tauli, development worker Sarah Abellon, Lourdes Jimenez of peasant group Apit-Tako, Florence Kang, acting executive director of Ilocos Center for Research Empowerment and Development, Northern Dispatch correspondent Niño Oconer, Jovencio Tangbawan, Salcedo Dumayom Dappay Jr. and Lucia Lourdes Gimenes.

Rebellion is a non-bailable offense.

Awingan is the mother of Kara Taggaoa, Kilusang Mayo Uno’s international officer, who was also arrested last year over trumped-p charges. In a Twitter post, Taggaoa said her mother was arrested in their house in Baguio City at 11:45 a.m. today.

“Ang nanay ko ay isang aktibista, hindi kriminal, hindi terorista. Palayain!” Taggaoa posted on Twitter. (My mother is an activist, not a criminal, not a terrorist. Release her!)

Progressive groups condemned the issuance of warrant of arrests without going through due process.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the respondents in the said case are not aware of the charges against them.

“We condemn the continuing weaponization of the law that is used to arrest and detain activists without bail. No due process was observed in this case as the respondents say that they were not duly informed of the case,” the group said in a statement.

Bayan reiterated that prosecutors and judges should not allow themselves to be used in filing trumped-up charges and rights violations.

“This must stop,” they added.

Awingan is active in campaigns against large-scale mining and dam projects in the region.

Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment meanwhile said that the warrant of arrests against their colleagues only shows that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is following in the footsteps of his own father, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and of his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, “whose administrations weaponized the courts and the law to crush legal and legitimate community dissent.”

“We denounce this new attack on our colleagues from the Cordillera People’s Alliance, who do the work of environmental defense in that region rich with mineral and timber resources and rivers, all of which are being eyed by corporate plunderers,” the group said.

Meanwhile, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) demanded Alzate to “explain and be held accountable for the malicious use of his power, and being instrumental in the dirty campaign of the military and police and NTF-ELCAC against activists!”

It would be remembered that under the Duterte administration, several activists were arrested and scores were killed after local courts issued search warrants. One judge who has been known for issuing what activists called as “copy-paste warrants” is Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.

In 2021, amid the calls of lawyers and rights groups, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Matter No. 21-06-08-SC, which requires the use of at least one body-worn camera and one alternative recording device that can record the circumstances surrounding the execution of warrants.

Read: Rights group urges release of activists arrested using questionable warrants
Read: Truth-tagging? | Courts junk cases vs red-tagged activists, peace consultants

The SC also removed the power provided to executive judges of Quezon City and Manila regional trial courts to issue search warrants that may be served anywhere in the country.

In an earlier report of Bulatlat, 60 activists in Negros and Metro Manila have been arrested with the so-called “roving warrant.”

Meanwhile, several trumped-up charges have been dismissed by the court. If not invalidated search warrants, the courts also granted demurrer to evidence, the case is outside territorial jurisdiction or failing to present evidence. (RVO) (

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