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Cordillera activist files civil suit against police officers

Sherwin de Vera

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Cordillera activist files civil suit against police officers

SUPPORT NETWORK. Family and CPA members accompany Windel Bolinget during his court filing of the civil suit for damages amounting to P300,000.


Cordillera Peoples Alliance chair Windel Bolinget says the countersuit is more of a political statement – 'a call on law enforcers to observe due process and the rule of law'

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Activists in the Cordillera continue to push back against what they described as political persecution, this time suing police officers and a witness for a murder charge against a leader of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) that was later dismissed.

CPA chair Windel Bolinget on Friday, June 23, filed the civil suit before the La Trinidad Municipal Trial Court in Benguet against two police officers – Major Ruth Dizon and Brigadier General R’win Pagkalinawan – and Ranel Tibog Vender.

Bolinget is seeking P300,000 for actual, moral, and exemplary damages, and another P100,000 for litigation expenses and lawyer’s fee. 

The civil suit stemmed from the murder charges police filed against him and several others for the killing of Garito Tiklonay Malibato in August 2018. Tagum City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 dismissed the case for lack of probable cause in July 2021. 

Dizon, then police chief of Kapalong, Davao del Norte, filed the complaint while Vender, the witness, accused Bolinget of involvement in Malibato’s killing. Pagkalinawan, who was Cordillera police chief at the time, was included in the civil suit as he had issued a “shoot-to-kill order” against Bolinget.

Bolinget accused the defendants of acting “in conspiracy, confederation, and aiding one another to hurl false accusations.” These actions, he said, caused him “mental anguish, moral suffering, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shocks, and social humiliation.” 

‘Intent to do harm’

In an interview after the filing, Bolinget said: “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.”

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 went through and that the countersuit was 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.” 

Bolinget’s ordeal had driven his son, Zoroaster “Lasan” Bolinget, to be a lawyer. He was among the passers of the 2020/2021 Bar exam.

‘Trumped-up cases’ further clogs court dockets

Caselle Ton, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance spokesperson, said the civil suit is the first that they know of in Northern Luzon, so far.

“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. 

Ton noted that “trumped-up cases” against activists are only further burdening the already clogged court dockets.

“Our courts are already clogged with cases, tapos dadagdag pa itong mga (and are being further clogged by these) trumped-up cases against activists. They are essentially denying others speedy trial and wasting valuable time and resources,” she said. 

Ton noted that if cops are ordered to file fabricated cases, as “law enforcers who are true to their oath of protecting and serving the people, they should disobey unlawful orders.”

Earlier in June, CPA members sought Supreme Court protection amid the perceived threat to their lives due to the red-tagging of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and other government agencies. –

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