The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women welcomed the Court of Appeals (CA) Tenth Division’s decision lifting the freeze order on one of its bank accounts for lack of probable cause and urged CA to lift the freeze order to its remaining bank account.

The decision which was released on November 19 stated, “Nothing in the evidence directly or indirectly implicated respondent Amihan national in the terrorism financing scheme described by key witnesses… As such, it would be grossly improper and unjust to include the aforesaid bank account of Amihan National in the grant of the instant Verified Petition for the Extension of the subject freeze order.”

However, other accounts allegedly owned by Amihan specified in the petition filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) remain subject of the freeze order.

“The court’s decision is an affirmation that the allegations made against our organization were based on unfounded testimonies. It is a scheme of the Duterte government targeting and vilifying peasant and progressive organizations who have relentlessly been opposing its anti-farmer and anti-people policies,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.

Soriano added, “Patunay ito na mananaig ang katotohanan. Isa itong sampal sa AMLC at NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) para sa mga gawa-gawang kaso nito na nakabatay lamang sa mga testimonya. Katulad lamang ito ng mga gawa-gawang kaso na isinasampa sa mga aktibista pero sa kalaunan naman ay nadidismiss dahil sa kawalang ebidensya.”

The group’s legal counsel Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) said that freezing of Amihan’s other bank account not subject to the AMLC petition for extension of the freeze order should also be lifted immediately.

The AMLC issued the 20-day freeze order to several bank accounts including Amihan’s two bank accounts through AMLC Resolution No. TF-38, Series of 2021 dated May 5, 2021, based on alleged violations of Terrorism Financing and Suppression Act of 2012. An extension of six months was granted by the Court of Appeals after the AMLC filed a Verified Petition for Extension of Freeze Order on June 3, 2021.

Soriano reiterated that the freeze order on their bank accounts was a form of red-tagging and harassment of the Duterte government as its leaders, organizers, members and other peasant women have been victims of human rights abuses including extra-judicial killings, illegal arrest and detention, red-tagging and forced surrender.

Among the victims are Genalyn Avelino of Mindoro, Amihan National Council member who was illegally arrested and detained last February 2021, red-tagged Amihan leaders Leonisa Taray of Bohol, Jacqueline Ratin and Julie Marcos of Cagayan, Nenita Apricio and Gladys Ganado of Isabela and Amihan-Cagayan organizer Amanda Echanis.

“For 35 years, we have been working with peasant women and rural communities and we will continue to advance 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. We will not be cowered by a tyrannical, misogynist and anti-people regime,” Soriano ended. ###

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