The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is an independent federation of progressive peoples organizations, most of them grassroots-based organizations among indigenous communities in the Cordillera Region, Philippines . CPA is committed to the promotion and defense of indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, social justice, and national freedom and democracy.
CPA is a non-stock, non-profit mass-organization duly registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission.
CPA was founded in June 1984 in Bontoc, Mountain Province, by 150 delegates from 27 organizations attending the Cordillera People’s Congress. The founders of CPA were mainly indigenous leaders and activists who spearheaded the widespread and successful opposition to the World Bank-funded Chico dams project and the commercial logging operations of the Cellophil Resources Corporation.
This was during the Marcos dictatorship period, when the government and its corporate partners pursued destructive projects in the Cordillera region, coupled with worsening militarization and political repression. There was then a need to strengthen the mass movement of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera to work for the promotion, recognition and defense of indigenous peoples (IP) rights and human rights. The newly-formed CPA answered this need.
Through the years, CPA has launched sustained information drives, advocacy activities, campaigns and direct actions and local struggles on indigenous peoples’ rights and related issues. These activities were implemented along side organizing work of various indigenous communities in the region and building their capacity through education seminars, trainings and various types of assistance. Through the years, CPA has expanded to include 120 community organizations, three provincial chapters in Mountain Province, Kalinga, and Abra, urban multi-sectoral chapter in Baguio city, Municipal Chapter in Itogon Benguet, and sectoral federations of youth, women, elders, peasant and cultural workers.
CPA, as an alliance, respects the independence and autonomous operation of its members. But it also provides a system of tight coordination and close cooperation in the implementation of its general program as its basis of unity.
Today, CPA has gained recognition and legitimacy as a major center of the progressive Cordillera mass movement with its independence, unwavering commitment and its consistent and sustained advocacy, campaigns and direct actions on the recognition of indigenous peoples rights, human rights, social justice, genuine peace and national democracy.
Drawing strength from its two decades of experiences and lessons, CPA continues to pursue its commitment to advance its general programme and principles.
CPA Particular Program
Membership and Organizational Process
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance is composed of community organizations and sectoral federations in the Cordillera region — mainly indigenous peasants who comprise the bulk of its members, formal wage workers and odd-job workers, youth and students, elders, women, professionals, human rights workers, and cultural workers.
There are also some individual members who abide by the CPA principles and who consistently support CPA programs and activities.
The member federations, organizations, and individuals are bound by the CPA Declaration of Principles and General Program. They are further guided by its Constitution and By-Laws, as well as policies and decisions adapted by its duly constituted bodies.
As an alliance, CPA promotes the principle of consensus in decision-making, after free and full discussions with due respect to independence of each member. CPA also promotes the principle of mutual support, cooperation, and protection in the relations of it members.
CPA continues to expand its members through organizing of indigenous communities and sectors and active networking with other indigenous organizations, institutions and individuals.
The Regional Congress is the highest decision-making body of the CPA. It is composed of representatives of member-organizations, sectors and some individuals. It meets in an assembly every two years for the evaluation, formulation of the general two-year program and thrust and policies of the Alliance . The Regional Congress elects the members of the Regional Council.
The Regional Council (RC) is the highest decision-making body in between regional congresses. The Regional Council formulates the bi-annual campaign plans of CPA and organizational policies pertaining to the work of the Executive Committee and the Commissions. The RC is composed of representatives of chapters and regional sectoral organizations and alliances, elected by the participants of the regional congress. The RC meets twice a year. At present, the Regional Council has 23 members.
The Executive Committee, elected by the Regional Council, exercises general leadership and makes decisions and practical plans between Regional Council meetings. It is composed of the CPA Chairperson, two Vice-Chairpersons, the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, the Treasurer, and the Heads of Commissions as ex-officio members. The EC meets at least once in three months and as the need arises. The EC collectively supervises the implementation of the campaign and other plans assigned to the regional secretariat. It also decides on administrative and financial matters. The EC members are directly accountable to the Regional Council. It also works closely with the leadership bodies of the Chapters and sectoral member-organizations.
The EC members are the official spokespersons of CPA at the regional level and represents the Alliance in various activities. There are three members of the EC who are full time in working with the regional secretariat, namely the Chairperson, the Secretary General and the Deputy secretary General.
The current members of the Executive Committee are the following:
Chairperson: Windel Bolinget
Vice Chairperson for external affairs: Jill Cariño
Vice Chairperson for internal affairs: Santos Mero
Secretary General: Bestang Dekdekan
Deputy Secretary General: Aisah Mariano
Treasurer: Abigail Anongos
Auditor: Georgia Velasco
The Regional Secretariat serves as the EC’s staff in managing the CPA regional center and the implementation of its programs on a daily basis at the regional level. Secretariat members staff the various CPA Commissions, which include the Education Commission, the Public Information Commission, the Research Commission, the Solidarity Commission, and the People’s Welfare Commission. The regional secretariat acts as the regional campaign secretariat while at the same time implementing the programs of the different Commissions in close coordination with member-organizations. The regional secretariat also provides support and assistance to the needs of CPA members.
CHAPTERS AND SECTORS
At present, CPA has provincial chapters and affiliate organizations in the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Apayao and the City of Baguio. Organizing work among Cordillerans in Metro Manila and overseas is being facilitated by CPA. Likewise, organizations and alliances covering indigenous communities in other regions adjacent to the Cordillera have affiliated with CPA..
Regional sectoral organizations and alliances that are affiliated with CPA include those based among peasants (APIT TAKO or Alliance of Peasants in the Cordillera Homeland), workers (KMU- Cordillera), youth and students (Anakbayan-Cordillera), women (Innabuyog-Gabriela), elders (Cordillera Elders Alliance), urban poor, human rights workers (Cordillera Human Rights Alliance), and cultural workers (Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera or the regional alliance of cultural organizations).
The chapters of CPA and sectoral-member organizations have their own leadership structures and particular programs, while carrying the General Programme of Action of CPA. Their full time staff and or pool of volunteers are mainly engaged in sustained organizing work of indigenous communities and sectors. The Regional Secretariat and the Executive Committee work closely with the leadership bodies and volunteers of CPA chapters and sectoral organizations in the over-all implementation of CPA’s program, activities and campaigns.
LINKS WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
CPA pursues its program in partnership with the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC), which is a network of 11 major non-government organizations (NGOs) with excellent track records in undertaking various socio-economic development programs
CPA is one of the convenors of the Save the Abra River Movement (STARM) and works closely with member-organizations in the campaign to save the Abra River from further pollution and destruction by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company.
CPA is also in partnership with DINTEG (Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center) in coordinating the overall human rights campaign and advocacy work in the region in providing services to victims of human rights violations human rights advocacy-related services. The establishment of DINTEG and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance were initiated by CPA in response to the worsening militarization and human rights violations in the region.
Believing that the problems of the Cordillera indigenous peoples are similar to those of other indigenous peoples in the Philippines and worldwide, the CPA actively seeks to establish linkages with other indigenous peoples’ movements and organizations nationwide and overseas. It is ready to work with other organizations and individuals of other political persuasions based on our principles and in the pursuit of common causes and demands.
On this basis, the CPA is an affiliated with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance), a national federation of people’s organizations in the Philippines committed to nationalist and democratic goals. It is also a member of KATRIBU Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, a national alliance of indigenous peoples in the Philippines; KALIKASAN (People's Environment Network); and is in partnership with IBON Foundation and IBON International, research and advocacy institutions.
CPA is not affiliated with any political party and maintains its independence as a civil-society mass organization.
At the international level, CPA is a member of the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the International Alliance of Indigenous/Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest (International Alliance), and the International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS). CPA is part of the coordinating secretariat and International Coordinating Committee of the international Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) since its founding in 2010. It is also a member and facilitator of the Rivers Watch, East and Southeast Asia (RWESA) and a member of the Mining and Communities Network (MAC). CPA maintains partnership and solidarity relations with numerous international organizations, networks and NGOs that have extended various forms of support and assistance to the program and campaigns of CPA.