Baguio activists turn to CA to unblock frozen bank accounts
BAGUIO CITY—The Baguio-based Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) has filed several pleadings with the Court of Appeals (CA) to urge the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to explain their move to freeze the progressive group’s assets, according to documents obtained by the Inquirer.
CPA’s “Petition to Determine the Basis of the Freeze Order” would help the group proceed with other legal options for relief, said lawyer Francisca Macliing Claver, whose law firm is handling the CPA case.
The group asked the appellate court to compel the AMLC and the ATC to divulge all the information relating to the June 7 designation of four of its members as terrorists, including the group’s beleaguered chair, Windel Bolinget, according to its July 19 petition, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Aug. 5.
Bolinget has been implicated in numerous cases since 2018, from murder in Tagum City to rebellion in Abra, of which he was acquitted.
On July 10, CPA learned that Bolinget and three of its members—Jennifer Awingan-Taggaoa, Sarah Abellon-Alikes and Stephen Tauli—were declared “terrorists” through ATC Resolution No. 41, which was released on June 7 but posted in a Manila newspaper 30 days later.
‘White area’ operatives
The resolution described them as “white area” operatives of the communist New People’s Army, which means they handle noncombat duties like recruitment and propaganda in urban areas.
In an attached affidavit, CPA secretary general Sarah Dekdeken informed the CA that she could no longer access the group’s account at a commercial bank here on July 12.
“I was informed by a bank employee that CPA’s property or funds were blocked or restrained,” Dekdeken said, adding that they were given a copy of AMLC Resolution No. TF-67, series of 2023, which was a June 30 “sanction freeze order” covering Bolinget, Awingan-Taggaoa, Abellon-Alikes and Tauli.
On July 18, Dekdeken was again informed that CPA’s account in another branch of the same bank had also been frozen until further notice. The bank again cited AMLC Resolution TF-67.
CPA said it had followed the government’s grievance procedures with its CA petition, which it must undertake within 20 days after the issuance of a freeze order.
“Rule 11.a of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10168, otherwise known as the Terror Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, and Rule 8.10 of the [IRR] of Republic Act No. 11479, otherwise known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, are the plain, speedy, and adequate remedies in the ordinary course of law,” the petition stated.
Not a terrorist
Dekdeken said Bolinget and the rest of CPA would argue the absence of due process in the issuance of ATC Resolution 41.
She said CPA and the four activists were not called by ATC to any hearings or preliminary investigations prior to the terror tag they learned about in a newspaper.
At a July 20 news conference, Bolinget’s wife, Elvie, a teacher, decried the ATC and AMLC resolutions, stressing that while her husband has long been an activist, “he is not a terrorist.”
Bolinget was one of the indigenous leaders who had challenged RA 11479 before the Supreme Court, which struck down only two provisions of the law as unconstitutional in a 2021 ruling. The high court upheld its decision last year during the court’s summer session in Baguio City. INQ