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We Stand with Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines!

Appealing for Urgent Action on the Attacks Against CPA and its Leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the exclusion of vulnerable groups all over the world.

In the Philippines, apart from economic and health vulnerabilities, the community of human rights defenders continues to face unjust political attacks, threatening their physical safety and well-being. Such is the case of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), an Innovate and Learn grantee, whose leaders are experiencing intensified smear campaigns, believed to be aimed at discrediting the organisation and silencing civil society from voicing out pressing issues and concerns. The attacks started when the CPA released a statement criticising the dropping of COVID-19-related leaflets by two Philippine army choppers in some parts of the Cordillera region on the 9th of April, 2020. These attacks continue to intensify through social media and have gone to the extent of involving the leaders’ innocent family members—a taboo in Cordillera society.

Voice stands in solidarity with CPA in decrying these attacks and the spread of false information about the organisation and its members. We believe in freedom of opinion and expression as one of the pillars of human rights and a democracy. Furthermore, we strongly condemn any form of intimidation and harassment subjected to human rights defenders to stifle their voices. These attacks are not new to human rights defenders in the Philippines, which makes it all the more fitting to call for strengthened support within civil society in protecting each other’s civil liberties. At a time like this when drastic, unwanted changes surround us, it is hope and responsive action that should be spread— not fear and abuse of power.

“The Cordillera Peoples Alliance [CPA] was established in 1984 by 27 people’s organisations from around the Cordillera region to work for the Defense of Ancestral Domain and Self Determination. For the past 36 years, CPA has built a credible track record of advancing indigenous people’s rights and self-determination, and promoting human rights, genuine peace, and fundamental rights of democratic sectors.”

– Excerpt from CPA’s letter of concern

Please read the full CPA’s formal letter of concern here.

To express your support to the organisation, please click and sign the online petition here

You may also issue statements in support of CPA for circulation to the public and mass media through their website and social media platforms. Please send a copy of or link to your published statement to cpa@cpaphils.org and cpaphils.1984@gmail.com.

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