An open letter to Tabuk execs on ‘red-tagging’ CPA

>> Thursday, March 11, 2021

Alfred P. Dizon
(Hereunder is an open letter dated Feb. 24, 2021 to Henry Tubban, Tabuk City chairperson of committee on peace and order, safety and security and Vice Mayor Bernard Glen Dao-as through mayor Darwin C. Estrañero, Tabuk city mayor from Dr. Chandu Claver and Farnaw Claver) 
    Last Feb. 22, 2021, Tabuk City police chief Lt. Col. Radino Belly submitted a proposed resolution to the City Council of Tabuk asking for the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) to be declared “persona non grata” in the city.
    This he stated, was decided in a meeting of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in Camp Crame. 
    We view this with profoundly serious concern. Dr. Chandu Claver, one of the signatories, has been a member of CPA since 1985. He served as chairperson of the Kalinga chapter of CPA from 2002 to 2006. Presently, he is serving as the international spokesperson of CPA for Canada. Farnaw Claver, the other signatory, was a Provincial Board Member for the Province of Kalinga from 1998 to 2004. 
    We both know CPA Kalinga as a people’s organization dedicated towards the preservation of Cordillera ancestral lands and culture and the pursuit of genuine autonomy for its people. It organizes ordinary people to be able to assert their rights both as indigenous peoples and as Filipinos. It works within the framework of the law to educate and mobilize people to be able to genuinely participate in the democratic processes of the republic. 
    Its rights as a people’s organization are guaranteed by Section 15, Article XIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states that: “The State shall respect the role of independent people's organizations to enable the people to pursue and protect, within the democratic framework, their legitimate and collective interests, and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.
    People's organizations are bona fide associations of citizens with demonstrated capacity to promote the public interest and with identifiable leadership, membership, and structure”. 
    In all our years of dealing with this organization, we have understood that CPA has always been a militant organization pushing its agenda “through peaceful and lawful means”.
    We fail to understand therefore, why CPA is being classed together with the New People’s Army (NPA) which is an organization that pushes its agenda through armed means. For police chief Belly to justify his proposal, he too will need to prove beyond doubt that members of CPA, like Dr. Chandu Claver, participate in armed operations of the NPA. 
    And as has already been proven in other areas, this action is wholesale red-tagging and could subject member organizations (which are numerous) and their constituent members to needless harassment, incarceration, and even death.
These dire possibilities are made more real by the present plan of Cordillera regional police chief Brig. Gen. RWin Pagkalinawan to operationalize a “tokhang style” campaign against so-called “left-leaning” individuals in the region.
    As we see it, the proposed resolution is an attempt of the police and the military to curtail and suppress people’s organizations that are critical of government actions that are inimical to the welfare of the people and true national progress. 
    As the Local Government Code gives the responsibility for implementing the constitutional provision on people’s organizations to the local government units, it is also clear to us that this proposed resolution is a brazen attempt by the police and the military to usurp the function of the civilian local government. 
    And lastly, it was the late Atty. William F. Claver, former Governor of Kalinga, and former Representative of Kalinga to Congress who founded the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance. It would be a slur to his memory to imply that this Kalinga stalwart founded an organization that would now be declared unwelcome in the city and province that he served well. 
     On the above bases, we strongly urge the honorable members of the City Council to deny police and military usurpation of the Council’s function and reject the proposed resolution. 
    On a personal note, we have always planned to come back home to Tabuk. In fact, it was the Covid-19 pandemic that delayed our plans. It greatly bothers us now that the same State institutions that forced Dr. Chandu Claver to leave in the first place, are now setting up obstacles for his intention to return.  Dr. Chandu Claver and Farnaw Claver 


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