Rights groups oppose reso requiring NGOs in Kalinga to register before conducting activity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14) — Rights groups, including Karapatan and Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, are opposing a resolution from the Kalinga Provincial Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) mandating all non-government organizations to secure permission first from local officials before conducting any activity.

According to the PTF-ELCAC, the resolution No. 2023-04 was prompted by several reports from the local government unit and private individuals on the "suspicious conduct of consultations" by supposed NGOs in the province.

Karapatan said the resolution violates international laws and human rights norms because it undermines the fundamental principles of freedom of association.

"The right to freely associate is crucial for people's organizations and civil society organizations to carry out their essential work in promoting social justice, human rights and sustainable development," it added.

The same resolution also laid out a total of 23 "sectoral front organizations" given by the 50th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army.

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance — also included in the list — said the PTF-ELCAC just makes the organizations a target for grave human rights violations. It added that they always alert local governments and communities regarding their activities by securing permits and courtesy calls.

"The list released by the 50th IB is baseless and dangerous…legal, even accredited organizations are further red-tagged and prevented from delivering services such as relief, medical services, rehabilitation projects and more - services that the government could not sufficiently provide," the statement read.

Karapatan called on the Kalinga provincial government to review the resolution, which they think puts human rights defenders in harm's way.

CNN Philippines has sought comment from local officials of Kalinga.