Activists in the Cordillera continue to push back against what they perceived as political persecution, this time suing police officials and a witness for a murder charge against a leader of the Cordillera People Alliance (CPA). On June 23, CPA Chair Windel Bolinget asked the La Trinidad Municipal Trial Court in Benguet for a P300,000 award for actual, moral, and exemplary damages. He also wants the defendants to pay the P100,000 litigation expenses and lawyer fee.

The civil suit stemmed from the murder charges filed against him and other activists in August 2018 in a Regional Trial Court in Tagum City, Davao del Norte. The police implicated them in the murder of Garito Tiklonay Malibato in March 2018. The court dismissed the case for lack of probable cause in July 2021. The defendants include then-Kapalong Municipal Police Chief Major Ruth Dizon, who filed the complaint, and the witness who accused Bolinge of taking part in the crime, Ranel Tibog Vender.

Also named as a defendant is former Police Regional Office chief BGen. R’win Pagkalinawan for his
“shoot-to-kill order” if Bolinget fights back. Bolinget said the defendants of acting “in conspiracy, confederation, and aiding one another to hurl false accusations.” These cause him “mental anguish, moral suffering, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shocks, and social humiliation.” Last week, CPA leaders and members also filed an appeal before the Supreme Court on the dismissal of the Writ of Amparo by the Court of Appeals.

First of counter-charges Caselle Ton, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance spokesperson, said the civil suit is the first among the countercharges they are helping to prepare. “So far, this is the first we
know in Northern Luzon, and the second filed by activists in the country against the police or the military,” she said. According to her, counsels from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers mentioned that the first countersuit stemming from fabricated charges is the “Morong 43” case.

The Sandiganbayan, the country’s anti-graft court, dismissed the illegal detention complaint filed by the health workers against the law enforcement personnel involved. “Our courts are already clogged with cases, tapos dadagdag pa itong mga trumped-up cases against activists. They are essentially denying others speedy trial and wasting valuable time and resources,” she said.
“Kung order man sa kanila ito, dapat bilang mga law enforcers na true to their oath of protecting and serving the people, they should disobey unlawful orders,” Ton added.

Intent to harm “They used the fabricated murder charge as a pretext to dangle a P100,000 reward for my capture and give a shoot-to-kill order against me. Clearly, there was an intent to do harm and stage a possible EJK (extrajudicial killing) under the guise of their ‘nanlaban’ narrative,” Bolinget said in an interview after the filing. According to him, the “dangerous order” of
Pagkalinawan forced him to voluntarily surrender to the regional office of the National Bureau of Investigation, where he was detained for two months.

“These traumatized me and my family, including my elderly mom. They shared the fear and burden of me being treated and hunted as a criminal. They experienced the intense surveillance not only in my residence in La Trinidad but also in my families’ home in Sagada and Bontoc (Mountain
Province),” he added. Bolinget said the monetary demand is insufficient to compensate for what he and his family experienced. He says the countersuit is more of a political statement, “a call on law
enforcers to observe due process and the rule of law.”

“As a responsible officer, Dizon should have done due diligence before filing the case. She should be held liable for fabricating the charge and all the sufferings she inflicted to those implicated in the case,” he said. Meanwhile, Pagkalinawan, he said, “should be made accountable for his irresponsible and dangerous statements.” He also challenged the police, saying, “if the PNP is
sincere in cleansing their ranks, they should include the dismissal of those who file fabricated charges.”

Amianan Balita Ngayon