Tribal Filipino Week
Peoples of the Cordillera, Assert Our Right to Self Determination!
We celebrate this year's
Tribal Filipino Week with renewed effort and commitment to step
up our right to self-determination as indigenous peoples of the
Cordillera. We welcome the adoption of the United Nations Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as it supports the world's
indigenous peoples' struggle for self determination and beefs up
local struggles for such by setting minimum standards at the international
level for the respect of indigenous peoples' rights. The challenge
now lies in the immediate implementation of the Declaration so that
it will be meaningful to us.
This year's Tribal Filipino Week Celebration also
coincides with the United Nations' Second International Decade of
the World's Indigenous Peoples, which gives once more added international
focus on the fundamental rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples.
In August 2007, we celebrated International Indigenous Peoples Day
through a regional consultation and dialogue and by coming up with
a Cordillera-wide Regional Program of Action with corresponding
calls and demands to address urgent issues that affect us.
As we celebrate our renewed commitment to fight
for our collective rights, we also pay homage to the heroes and
martyrs of the Cordillera peoples' movement, especially Ama Daniel
Ngayaan, as we commemorate the 20th Ngayaan Memorial this October.
A respected tribal elder and leader from Tanglag, Lubuagan, Kalinga,
Ama Daniel was one of the elder-leaders at the forefront of the
successful Chico Dams opposition during the Marcos dictatorship.
He was the chairperson of the Cordillera Bodong Association (CBA)
and vice chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) when
he was abducted and killed in the CPLA in 1987. His remains were
never found. We also remember Malbong tribal elder and leader Rafael
Markus Bangit of Kalinga, CPA regional council member and secretary
general of the Binodngan Peoples Organization (BPO) when he was
killed last year by military assassins and death squads of this
regime. Like Ama Daniel, Makoy was one of the active Kalinga youth
who participated in the Chico opposition, until he himself became
a peacepact holder for his tribe and continued to serve the Cordillera
peoples in their struggles.
The onslaught of globalization and the worsening
economic crisis has pushed Cordillera indigenous peoples towards
greater oppression and marginalization, and violations to our individual
and collective rights keep mounting. While it has been a trying
year for us, we did not succumb to these. Instead, we fought collectively
as our ancestors did, to uphold our rights especially under the
state terror unleashed by the Arroyo regime. Especially under this
regime, our struggle for self determination was confronted with
state terrorism, political persecution and killings. But we will
not waver in this fight. We will remain steadfast and resolute as
we continue to pursue our right to self determination, our right
to own and control our lands, territories and resources, our right
to free, prior, and informed consent among others.
We only have one Cordillera homeland to inherit
and defend. Thus, the legacy of those who have gone ahead of us
should not be in vain, as it is upon us to continue this task of
ensuring that our right to self determination is recognized and
EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF NORTH CENTRAL PHLIPPINES
SOCIAL ACTION CENTER-DIOCESE OF BAGUIO
ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS BAGUIO-BENGUET
ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN IN THEOLOGY
REGIONAL ECUMENICAL COUNCIL IN THE CORDILLERA
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE