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  • Writer's picturePanaghiusa Philippine Network

Panaghiusa calls to drop false charge vs. IP, advocate, revoke terror designation of Cordi leaders

During the hearing at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on the trumped-up charge of Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives against Julieta Gomez and Niezel Velasco, the Panaghiusa Philippine Network to Uphold Indigenous Peoples’ Rights called for the immediate dismissal of their case and to stop the judicial harassment against the Indigenous Peoples and advocates.



“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police should stop the weaponization of the law and criminalization of dissent. Julieta and Niezel’s work for lndigenous communities and other marginalized sectors in Mindanao is not a crime. We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in the country,” Beverly Longid, convener of Panaghiusa Philippine Network, said.


Gomez and Velasco were arrested on July 16, 2021, by police and military operatives during a raid at their home in Quezon City. The warrant was based on charges of murder and two counts of attempted murder, which were dismissed in 2022 and 2023. However, an additional trumped-up charge of Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives was filed against Julieta and Niezel.


During the raid, operatives claimed to have found various illegal firearms and explosives, such as rifles, a pistol, grenades, rifle barrels, and ammunition for AK-47 rifles among Gomez and Velasco's belongings. Additionally, they allegedly found two cell phones, a New Peoples Army (NPA) flag, and what the police described as subversive documents. The PNP and CIDG also accused them of being high-ranking NPA members. Last year, the murder charge against Gomez, which was the basis for the arrest warrant, was dismissed.



Longid reiterated that the case of Gomez and Velasco is part of extensive judicial harassment against the Indigenous Peoples and human rights defenders. June 7, 2024, marks the first year after the Anti-Terrorism Council arbitrarily designated Cordillera Peoples Alliance’s leaders Windel Bolinget, Steve Tauli, Sarah Alikes, and Jennifer Awingan as terrorists.



In line with the hearing of Gomez and Velasco’s case and a year after the unlawful terrorist designation of the CPA leaders, KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Bai Indigenous Women’s Network, Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination, human rights groups, and advocates protested in front of the Quezon City Hall of Justice to reiterate their call to defend the defenders and uphold the Indigenous Peoples’ rights.



Panaghiusa stated that they are closely monitoring the cases of Gomez, Velasco, and other prisoners of conscience. "Julieta and Niezel were simply fulfilling their duties to support the Indigenous communities, a responsibility the government has neglected. We want the world to know that the criminalization of Indigenous Peoples and advocates threatens their life, liberty, and security, and the Marcos Jr. regime and its forces must be held accountable for this," Longid concluded.



Panaghiusa Philippine Network reiterates to stop the attacks and the judicial harassment against the Indigenous Peoples and advocates. We call for the release of Gomez and Velasco and all other political prisoners in the Philippines. We call for the revocation of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s Resolution No. 41 designating the CPA leaders as terrorists violating their constitutional rights and endangers their life and security. #



Reference:


Florante Reyes

Communications and Networking Officer

09154665424



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