CA junks lifting of asset freeze vs Cordillera group

CA junks lifting of asset freeze vs Cordillera group

/ 04:40 AM February 07, 2024

COURT BATTLE Cordillera activists stage a protest in frontof the Baguio City Justice Hall in this photo taken on Jan. 26 as they attend the second hearing on an antiterror lawsuit they filed in a local court. —VINCENT CABREZA

COURT BATTLE Cordillera activists stage a protest in front of the Baguio City Justice Hall in this photo taken on Jan. 26 as they attend the second hearing on an antiterror lawsuit they
filed in a local court. —VINCENT CABREZA

BAGUIO CITY—The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed a petition questioning the government’s order last year to freeze the assets of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) because of the activist group’s association with Windel Bolinget, whom the court referred to as a “designated terrorist.”

“Albeit adversely impacted by the freezing of its corporate bank accounts, CPA cannot pursue a petition to determine the basis for a sanction freeze order because such a procedural remedy is restricted by law to a designated person … which, in this case, pertained to Bolinget,” according to the Dec. 14, 2023 ruling penned by 10th Division chair, Associate Justice Eduardo Peralta Jr., a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Tuesday.


CPA had earlier asked the CA to determine the basis for sanctions imposed on it by the government’s antiterrorism agencies, among them the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which barred CPA from accessing its bank accounts in July last year, using a legal recourse granted to it by Republic Act No. 11479 (the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020).


CPA, represented by its secretary general, Sarah Dekdekan, indicated that it was caught off guard by the AMLC ruling and had wanted full disclosure of the facts used to justify its actions. The group also asked the CA for permission to draw overdue salaries and its mandatory contributions to the Social Security System and PhilHealth.


However, the CA said “CPA cannot be regarded as a designated person sans (without) a valid designation by either the ATC (the Anti-Terrorism Council) or the United Nations Security Council.”

It added: “Coupled with the uncontroverted detail that Bolinget is the incumbent chair and president of CPA, this Court was convinced that the AMLC was on the right track when it assessed there was sufficient evidence to prove that the petitioner was effectively and ultimately controlled by Bolinget, a designated person, which justified the implementation of the sanction freeze order against the corporate bank accounts of CPA.” Bolinget and fellow activists Stephen Tauli, Sarah Abellon Alikes and Jennifer Awingan Taggaoa were included in the government’s terrorist roster on June 7 last year by the ATC. They learned about ATC Resolution No. 41 a month later, after CPA’s accounts were frozen through AMLC Resolution No. TF-67-2023.

Lawyer Francisca Claver, CPA counsel, said on Tuesday that her clients have filed a motion for reconsideration.

Claver had argued that the CPA freeze order was actually an “ex-parte preventive freeze order” which has a maximum duration of 20 days, asserting that without a designation from the UN Security Council that Bolinget or CPA were terrorists, “AMLC cannot validly issue a sanctions freeze order against them.”

Int’l obligation

But the CA ruled that the AMLC has the power to issue freeze orders “pursuant to the Philippines’ international obligations under UN Security Council Resolution No. 1373.”


According to the UN resolution, all member nations could “freeze without delay funds and other financial assets or economic resources of persons who commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts or [who] participate in or facilitate in the commission of terrorist acts.

READ: Cordillera activists hit AMLC for freezing assets

Bolinget, Tauli, Alikes and Taggaoa have filed a separate case against the ATC and the AMLC before the Baguio Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Nov. 23, 2023 arguing that they were tagged as terrorists without due process.

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But Presiding Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog of Baguio RTC Branch 7 suspended the trial on Jan. 26 to await instructions from the Supreme Court as to whether she continues to have jurisdiction over the case, owing to new guidelines released by the high tribunal governing the litigation of antiterrorism cases. INQ

TAGS: Cordillera, Court of Appeals, terrorist

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