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Rachel Mariano (right) and daughter Aisa (left)

The Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) stands by the innocence of  development worker Rachel Mariano, who faces several trumped-up charges lodged against her. CDPC decries the worsening phenomena of stifling the work and services of progressive development NGOs by filing trumped-up charges against them and worst by extrajudicially killing them.

CDPC staff visited Rachel on February 14, 2019  at the Provincial Jail in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, where she was incarcerated since September 2018. We have noticed her courage in coping with her situation despite the apparent deterioration of her health situation, physically and psychologically.

Rachel has been  working  with the Community Health, Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (CHESTCORE) based in Baguio Citythe health unit of the CDPC, a network of NGOs advocating for the right to self-determined development for the Cordillera people.

Since February 2018, Rachel has been facing three trumped up cases  with one count of murder, 8 counts of frustrated/attempted murder and 14 counts of frustrated/attempted homicide in 3 courts all filed  by the 81st Infantry Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).   She is being accused  as  a member of the New People’s Army (NPA)  and that she participated in armed encounters in the province of Ilocos Sur:  in Quirino in October 2017, Galimuyod in  August 2017 and in Del Pilar in July 2017.   She was granted temporary liberty after posting bail for the Galimuyod and Del Pilar cases but was denied to post bail on the Quirino case, the case with which she is now incarcerated.

Together with Rachel in the Galimuyod and Del Pilar cases are four other women human rights defenders in the Cordillera.  All four are out on bail.

Rachel is among the indigenous activists working for appropriate and free health services for all.  Rachel is among the people of Itogon calling for an end to large-scale mining in particular of the Benguet Corporation.  Rachel is among the Cordillera people resisting large-scale and profit oriented projects in the Cordillera region.  Rachel is among the Filipino people calling for a development agenda that responds to the widespread landlessness, unemployment, miserable social services among others. Rachel has not done any crime. On the contrary, she has devoted her expertise to serving marginalized communities in the Cordillera that badly need health services.

We call on advocates of genuine development for the Cordillera people and the Filipino people to work against the  incarceration and extermination of political dissenters. Service to the people is not a crime. ***

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