The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women denounced the freeze order issued by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) under Resolution No. TF-38, Series of 2021, pursuant to Section 11 of Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing and Suppression Act of 2012 on May 5, 2021. The freeze order included two bank accounts of Amihan along with bank accounts of eight other non-government and civil society organizations based in Mindanao, including its chapter in Northern Mindanao Region.

“Nakakagalit at hindi makatarungan ang hakbang na ito ng AMLC. Malinaw na hindi ito dumaan sa tamang proseso ng batas dahil hindi kami nabigyan ng pagkakataon na magpaliwanag at sagutin ang mga kasinungalingang ibinabato sa amin,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.

The group was only notified by the banking institution through a formal letter that the freeze order was due to AMLC’s resolution on June 8. It was also yesterday when the group received a resolution from the Court of Appeals extending the freeze order by six months. 

“The resolution was based on the unfounded allegation that we are involved in financing the activities of the CPP-NPA. This is clearly an act of the Duterte government targeting peasant and progressive organizations in an attempt to silence its critiques who have relentlessly been opposing its anti-farmer and anti-people policies which have worsened the poverty and hunger experienced by marginalized sectors gravely hit by the pandemic,” Soriano exclaimed.

“Amihan is a legitimate organization pushing for genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and an end to all forms of discrimination against peasant women. For 34 years, Amihan has led and joined campaigns for free land distribution and against land grabbing, production support for farmers and fisher folk, relief and rehabilitation for victims of calamities, food security and self-sufficiency and against militarization and other forms of rights abuses in rural communities, among others,” Soriano said.

Amihan, along with rice watch group Bantay Bigas led the campaign against Rice Liberalization Law by holding discussions and consultations with rice stakeholders, petition signing, lobbying in Congress and protest actions.

The group also conducted series of donation drive last year to help peasant families affected by the militarist lockdown in Rizal, Bataan, Isabela, Bicol and Cagayan as well as areas gravely hit by Typhoon Rolly and Ulysses. It has also conducted ‘Suplay Pang-suhay sa Kabataan sa Nayon’ which distributed school supplies to peasant and fisher folk children in Eastern Visayas, Rizal and Cavite.

Amihan leaders, organizers and members have been victims of rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, illegal arrest and detention, red-tagging and other forms of harassment and vilification which prompted the group to launch the #DefendPeasantWomen campaign last May.

“Ang tanging ginagawa namin ay isulong ang interes at karapatan ng pamilyang magbubukid para sa lupa, pagkain, kabuhayan at hustisya. Walang masama dito at malinaw na hindi ito terorismo. Ang tunay na biktima ng hakbang na ito ng gobyernong Duterte ay ang mga pamilyang magbubukid na walang ibang aasahan kundi ang kanilang pagkakaisa sa pamamagitan ng kanilang mga organisasyon. Ipinapakita nito na lahat ng organisasyon at indibidwal na na-red tag ay bulnerable sa freeze order at iba pang pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan na ipinagkakaloob sa AMLC, NTF-ELCAC at Anti-Terrorism Council,” Soriano said.

Amihan will challenge the unjust and unfounded freeze order even up to the Supreme Court including the constitutionality of Section 11 of RA 10168. It deprives legitimate organizations like Amihan the right to due process of law especially since it grants AMLC unbridled discretion and power to freeze bank accounts on the basis of the meresay-so of individuals who are used by the government through the NTF ELCAC in targeting red-tagged organizations, without giving the latter opportunity for notice, hearing and to confront the supposed witnesses whose testimonies were the only basis of the freeze order, ###

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