IP group alarmed over state agents harassing organizer

>> Thursday, June 22, 2017

By Aldwin Quitasol

BAGUIO CITY — The biggest alliance of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera expressed alarm on stalking and harassing of one of its youth organizers by suspected military or police agents.
Early morning of June 3, Rina Mangili Libongen, secretary general of Bileg ken Urnos dagiti Agtutubo nga Ybenguet (Strength and Unity of the Benguet Youth-Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance) was reportedly accosted by one of two men who clasped her forearm.
He only let go when shopkeepers started opening the doors to their stores. 
The two men fled.  But later that day, they tailed her again.
According to the Kabenguetan Agkaykaysa nga Ilaban ken Aywanan ti Biag, Daga, ken Kinabaknang-CPA Benguet Chapter (Benguet Unite to Defend and Nurture Life, Land, and Resources or KAIABANG), Libongen has been organizing youth and children for the theater arts and Cordillera people’s movement since her college days at the Benguet State University in the early 2000s.
The organization added that Libongen was instrumental in establishing the youth group BUDAy in 2010.
“Since May 27 this year, Rima has been stalked and harassed by two men whom we suspect to be military or police agents.  The two have been tailing her both in Itogon and in Baguio City.  On May 30, one of these men monitored the proceedings of a youth assembly that Rima facilitated in the Itogon Training Center in Bua, Tuding, Benguet,” reported the CPA.
On the afternoon of June 3, Libongen received a text message on her cell phone saying “Marami ka palang pinupuntahang lugar” (Oh, so you go to many places).  To avoid getting harassed again by text messages, Rima changed her number.  But on June 8, she received a new message saying, “Tukoy ka na” (You’ve been pinpointed).”
“We, Rima’s colleagues in KAIABANG-CPA Benguet Chapter believe that the two men who have been stalking and harassing Rima are doing so to intimidate her.  They want instill fear in her so that she will give up her activities as a leader and organizer of the Benguet youth movement.  We also fear, however, that their agenda might include more than harassment and intimidation, and so are anxious for our colleague’s safety especially since Rima remains stubborn in her commitment to our shared cause,” CPA stated.

Libongen is a 35-year old mother of three.  She is a member of the music group Salidummay, She is also a member of the IP music group Salidummay singing songs of Cordillera peoples’ struggle to defend their land and heritage.


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