IPs Defiant Amidst State Terrorism and National
As we commemorate International Human Rights
Day this December 10, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) upholds
its defiance versus national oppression, growing state terrorism,
plunder and outright violation to the collective rights of Cordillera
The threats of displacement among indigenous peoples
continue with the implementation of destructive projects in indigenous
territories. Current mining operations and various pending applications
(125 pending applications as of 2007) total 66% or 1.2 million hectares
of the region's total land area of 1.8 million hectares. The applications
range from Mineral Sharing Production Agreements, Financial and
Technical Assistance Agreements, and Industrial Sand and Gravel
Agreements. Years of capitalist mining by Lepanto Consolidated Mining
Company, (LCMCo) and Benguet Corporation have not only dislocated
the livelihood source of indigenous peoples in the host communities,
but have blatantly violated their individual and collective rights.
In Abra, Kalinga and Apayao large mining corporations are aggressively
entering; they disregarded the indigenous communities' right to
Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). In Apayao and Kalinga,
the National Commission on Indigenous People's (NCIP) manipulated
the FPIC process to make it appear that they democratically processed
the communities' consent.
In Tulgao, Tinglayan, Kalinga indigenous communities
are sustaining their rejection to the geothermal project of Guidance
Management Corporation-Aragorn Power and Energy Corporation (GMC-APEC),
which tried to enter the said community as early as March this year.
We are also bracing ourselves for the probable US$1 million hydro-project
in Kiangan, Ifugao.
Equally destructive is the continuing government program of agricultural
liberalization. The importation of vegetables has adversely affected
the vegetable industry particularly in Benguet. The Arroyo regime's
Northern Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ) targets the Cordillera
region as one of the "super regions" up for developing
and tasked primarily to reduce agricultural products that could
supply the needs of other population in Luzon and for export to
North Asia. This project definitely lowers the prices of agricultural
products for the Filipino consumers. GMA has also asked local executives
in the NLAQ to develop the secondary potentials of the region, namely,
tourism, mineral resources and energy development. These plans will
ultimately worsen the national oppression of indigenous peoples.
Militarization is widely used to facilitate the
entry of destructive projects. Government also implements this for
counter-insurgency purposes against not only the underground revolutionary
movement but also including the legal Cordillera mass movement.
Military deployment is concentrated in the northwestern area of
Northern Luzon covering the tri-boundaries of Abra, Mountain Province
and Ilocos Sur where the mining operations of Lepanto.
Meanwhile, while tourism activities bring in revenue
to local government units, the social cost of decadence of alcoholism,
drugs and prostitution now victimize our indigenous women and youth.
In 2007, the Arroyo regime attempted to silence
us. We were harassed, threatened and even killed in cold blood.
Yet we have faced the rigors of 2007 with the will to continue the
struggle for our human rights. In the face of relentless violation
to our right to self-determination, we remain defiant and we shall
prevail, as we brace ourselves for more challenges and work towards
greater recognition of our human rights in 2008.
We continue to hold the Arroyo regime accountable
to the violations of our individual and collective human rights.
While the Human Security Act of 2007 and the Oplan
Bantay Laya remain serious obstacles in the pursuit of our rights
to land, life and resources, we will not be held back. We continue
to hold the corrupt and illegitimate Arroyo regime responsible for
the killings and injustices we have suffered. We renew our call
for its ouster and for the establishment of a truly democratic,
independent and self-determining Philippine society. #