AMP Statement on Terror Financing Accusations against CERNET (Visayas)

September 29, 2023

Dear friends,

We are sharing with you the statement by the AMP – Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen (Action Human Rights – Philippines) on the recent terror financing accusations against the Community Empowerment Resource Network, Inc. (CERNET), a network of humanitarian and development organizations in the Visayas in the Philippines.

Feel free to share the statement among your networks. Thank you.

Karapatan Public Information Desk

On the Subpoena of CERNET Staff and Board Members

The AMP strongly condemns the baseless accusations lodged against members of CERNET’s staff, board, and council. These accusations, initiated by Col. Joey Escanillas of the Philippine Army, have resulted in the subpoena of 28 individuals from CERNET, alleging breaches of the “Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act” (R.A. No. 1016) from 2012. We find these charges to be unsubstantiated, seemingly designed to tarnish CERNET’s reputation and to hinder its operations.

Founded in 2001, CERNET has consistently worked alongside grassroots organizations to improve poverty conditions in their communities with provable impact on the lives’ served. While receiving recognition for its work, CERNET for years has been the target of unfounded accusations of supporting the communist insurgency in the Philippines. This practice, referred to as “red-tagging,” is a common strategy employed by Philippine security forces to threaten progressive organisations and their staff. The repercussions of this tactic are severe, ranging from arbitrary arrests to public defamation and surveillance. In graver instances, this strategy has culminated in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Earlier this year, Dyan Gumanao, a CERNET staff member, was abducted by alleged Philippine security forces and interrogated at an undisclosed location for several days.

AMP records indicate a significant increase in the number of human rights defenders who have been killed in recent years under the disguise of so-called counter-insurgency measures. International bodies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have criticized the recurrent practice of “red-tagging.” Such actions erode the bedrock of community-led development and poverty reduction.

Given this deteriorating human rights landscape, AMP is also deeply troubled by the potential weaponization of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws against NGOs and activists. After being repeatedly grey-listed by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), the Philippine government is apparently under pressure to show there has been an increase in the prosecution of money laundering and terrorism financing cases. In a recent study, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism has highlighted the global trend of governments abusing international counter-terrorism financing standards against civil society, citing the Philippines as an example.

We therefore urgently call on the Philippine government to retract all unfounded accusations against CERNET. Furthermore, we urge the Philippine government to conduct thorough investigations and hold those responsible for “red-tagging” accountable.

In Solidarity,


for the AMP Network

Astrud Lea Beringer

Projektkoordinatorin |Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen (AMP)

Project Coordinator | Action Network Human Rights – Philippines

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50672 Cologne, Germany

+49 – (0) 221-716121-22