26 August 2022
Manila, Philippines/Bogor, Indonesia
A member of ILC in the Philippines, Stephen “Steve” Tauli of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), recently experienced atrocious treatment by armed men believed to be State Security Forces. For about 36 hours, Steve was held hostage for reasons of being affiliated with the far-left communist movement in the country, or what is generally known as “red-tagging”. Steve was found on the evening of August 21st and is now in a safe condition with his family.
“After the search initiated by CPA in Kalinga, including persistent calls made to the local government units such as the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, Steve Tauli was found at around 10 pm today. He is still in shock and needs to recover to be able to state the full accounts of what took place since the assault on him yesterday. We extend our gratitude for your support and solidarity,” as stated in CPA’s email statement on Sunday, August 21st.
The incident began on the evening of August 20th, when five armed men mauled and abducted Steve in front of a store along Ag-a Road, Appas, Tabuk City near the CPA Kalinga office building. Prior to this incident, Steve, 63, had long been subjected to red-tagging, surveillance and harassment as experienced by other CPA leaders and members.
Steve is the husband of CPA Vice-chairperson Jill Cariño.
ILC Asia condemns this kind of violent treatment of indigenous communities and land rights defenders and calls on the Government of the Philippines to immediately end the practice of red-tagging. Indigenous peoples and human rights activists should be allowed to peacefully do their work and defend their communities in the face of militarisation, destructive development, and discrimination. ILC Asia supports our members who have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, especially in the face of criminalisation and violent threats.
"We have reason to believe the abduction of Steve was committed by members of the state security forces due to his decades-long commitment and advocacy for the defence of indigenous peoples' rights and human rights", said Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Secretary-General Sarah Dekdeken. CPA is an independent federation of progressive people's organizations, mostly grassroots-based organizations among indigenous communities in the Cordillera region of the Philippines.
Despite international recognition of the important role that indigenous peoples play in the conservation of the environment, governments are yet to take concerted action to fully protect their rights. According to Global Witness, 29 land and environmental defenders were killed in the Philippines in 2020, making it the country with the highest number of such killings in the world for eight straight years.
We demand the Philippines Government immediately stop any act of violence and harassment, including criminalisation, against indigenous rights defenders, community leaders, and political activists.
For more information, please contact
Sarah Dekdeken (Tagalog, Ilocano, English)
Andita Listyarini (Bahasa Indonesia, English)
Communications Officer, ILC Asia