Cordillera Elders Alliance holds Second Congress
TABUK CITY, Kalinga — About 120 traditional and emerging community leaders met March 18 to 19 in Basao, Tinglayan, Kalinga for the 2nd Regional Congress of the Cordillera Elders’ Alliance (CEA), a member organization of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.
Previously comprised of only tribal elders’ formations among the Kalinga, Bontok, Northern Kankanaey and Bago, CEA welcomed into its fold elders from Tinggian, Benguet Kankanaey, Ibaloy and Karaw, and Ifugao Kalanguya, Ayangan and Tuwali organizations.
The Congress reviewed CEA’s orientation in order to define more clearly the role that elders should play in the complex economic and political situation that Cordillera communities now confront. It also simplified CEA’s structure and procedures in order to make these correspond more closely to the nature and character of decision-making in Cordillera communities.
Following discussions of the status of indigenous socio-political institutions, and the threats and challenges faced by communities vis-à-vis mining, energy projects, environmental degradation, the chronic economic crisis, tribal and clan conflict, militarization, and human rights violations, Congress participants determined the responsibilities of CEA elders.
Identified responsibilities of CEA elders include: to actively share their experience and knowledge, including their knowledge of their respective ili’s territories and territorial boundaries, with the younger members of their communities; to study and analyze issues so that they can deliberate and arrive upon the proper position regarding these; to unite their communities around the said position; and to lead their communities to actively address the said issues.
In addition CEA elders are also expected to revitalize the traditions of collective leadership and decision-making-by-consensus; to take an active role in the resolution of conflict within and between their communities – especially tribal and clan conflict; to educate the younger members of their communities in the meaning and importance of ili, and the defense of ili; and to accompany wise words with exemplary action.
The Congress adopted decision-making-by-consensus (instead of divisive voting) as a basic principle of CEA, selected a Council of 21, and chose a Coordinator of this Council. Of the 21, three would represent the Abra Binodngan Elders’ Assembly (ABEA), another three the Binodngan People’s Organization (BPO of Kalinga), another three Maitud (of the Mountain Province), another three Am-in (of the Abra-MP-Ilocos Sur triboundary), and another three the Metro-Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Association (MBTELA); two would represent Benguet; two would represent Ifugao; two were chosen at large as exemplary regional leaders. ABEA’s Jovencio Balweg would serve as Coordinator. # By APIT TAKO