Global probe on
PH rights violations to include case of harassed indigenous peoples
activist Windel Bolinget politically persecuted, submitted himself
to authorities for custodial protection on fabricated charges
January 26, 2021
Investigate PH, an independent international investigation on the
human rights abuses in the Philippines announced Wednesday that it
will include the case of Cordillera indigenous leader Windel
Bolinget. Last week, Bolinget submitted himself to the authorities
for protection as he faces the trumped-up murder case that was filed
by a police against him. Prior to this, a shoot to kill order and
bounty of US $2,100 was issued by the police directly threatening
“We are determined to
pursue the case of indigenous peoples activist Windel Bolinget in
this ongoing independent investigation. The absurd cases filed
against him causing fear for his life and the safety of his family
are testaments to the terror human rights defenders face in the
Philippines,” says International Coalition for Human Rights in the
Philippine (ICHRP) Chairperson Peter Murphy who is also part of the
global probe Investigate PH.
Bolinget’s case which
involves harassment, red-tagging and the now trumped up charges has
been shortlisted by Investigate PH in its investigation. The
independent international probe will submit a report to the upcoming
Regular Sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Mr Bolinget is the
Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and national convenor
of KATRIBU national alliance of indigenous peoples. He is also a
member of the global steering committee of Land is Life, a global
network of indigenous peoples’ organizations and advocates. “Windel
Bolinget has long been known globally as an indigenous activist
strongly committed to his work, and for many years has suffered
red-tagging and death threats,” says Murphy.
On 6 August 2020, a
criminal case was filed at Davao del Norte, Southern Philippines,
against eleven individuals including Mr Bolinget, for their alleged
involvement in the murder of Garito Malibato on 21 March 2018.
Bolinget belongs to the Kankanaey and Bontok indigenous peoples in
the Cordillera Region, Northern Philippines. The distance between
the Cordillera and Davao del Norte is more than 1700 kilometres and
is two major islands away.
“The murder charge appears
to be absurd and out of this world. The Cordillera is in the north
of the Philippines, while Davao del Norte is very far to the south,”
The Police circulated
online and in public places the Wanted Poster announcing a reward of
P100,000 (2,080 USD) for any information that could lead to his
arrest. On January 19, 2021, Police Provincial Regional Office
Cordillera Chief R’win Pagkalinawan released a ‘shoot to kill’ order
for Mr Bolinget, qualifying it only with ‘if nanlaban’ (if he
retaliated). ‘Nanlaban’ is the routine excuse for police shooting of
alleged drug suspects and indicates that the target person
According to ICHRP, this
bounty only encourages vigilantes and more violence, which further
puts in danger the life of Bolinget. It also denied due process to
the falsely accused Mr Bolinget.
The ICHRP Chairperson
reminded Chief Pagkalinawan that his statement “is a pretext for the
speedy extra-judicial killing of Mr Bolinget before evidence
presented in a legal process could prove that the murder charge is
International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights
Violations in the Philippines or Investigate PH seek to look into
cases of killings of those allegedly involved in drug trade/use and
the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society
organizations like that of Bolinget.
Investigate PH will be
holding a global launch this week to introduce its commissioners who
are leaders of government parliaments, international legal
organisations and churches.
Lastly, the global rights
group ICHRP stressed that Bolinget’s case is just one of many cases
that demonstrate that the Philippine government claims to the
international community that its domestic processes upholding human
rights are blatantly fraudulent.