June 24, 2024

The Bangued Regional Trial Court Branch 2 court in Abra has granted the petition for bail of Cordilleran activist Jennifer Awingan-Taggaoa who was released on Feb. 7, as rights groups continue their call to drop the charges of rebellion against her and six other activists.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance, in its statement, called for the continuing support for Taggaoa who bailed P100,000 for her temporary liberty after spending more than a week in jail for rebellion. 

On Jan. 30, the police arrested Taggaoa, a research staff of the CPA, at her residence in Baguio City.

The military has implicated her along with six other activists and development workers, in the New People’s Army ambush of four government soldiers in Malibcong, Abra in October 2022. Two soldiers died in the ambush.

Police report on the arrest of Taggaoa stated she is the secretary of the Regional Urban White Area Committee of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Ronald Taggaoa, husband of Jennifer, said his wife is outspoken with regard to indigenous peoples rights and has been attending United Nations conferences especially in its action on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Taggaoa said his wife, a native of Pinukpuk, Kalinga, has been working with the community in opposing the proposed Saltan dam projects in the province.

He said she is committed to go against the project, which would cause an impact in the community, and for that she has been subject to intimidation and harassment. Last year, she asked the Commission on Human Rights for assistance.

“The government should listen instead of threatening us, they should consider the legitimacy of our claims, of what we stand for. When we speak for communities, my wife is not organizing people to rebel against the government, my wife is organizing people to question why there’s a need to put up these dams,” Taggaoa said. 

Taggaoa, president of the Union of Faculty and Employees of Saint Louis University, said he was also a subject of threats and harassment every time he speaks out against the government. He said he has been one of those that went to the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of the K to 12 program, which the government was then bent on implementing.

He said members of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency then came to their residence and to his workplace to various information that could easily be obtained from other government agencies. 

In the Feb. 2 motion of the accused by their counsel Jose Molintas, “there is no probable cause to indict” the seven activists, development workers, and community journalist.

Citing the affidavits from the soldiers who survived the ambush, Molintas said the witnesses only named two alleged NPA members as perpetrators.

The other accused, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Windel Bolinget, Lourdes Jimenez, Florence Kang, Niño Oconer, and Stephen Tauli, “were not among those identified as assailants.”

Judge Corpuz Alzate of the Bangued RTC Branch 2 gave the prosecution 15 days to comment on the motion to exclude the seven activists from the rebellion case. – Ofelia C. Empian