ON THE CONTINUING
HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION OF CPA MEMBERS AND LEADERS
We condemn the unabated military harassment
and intimidation to the members and officers of the Cordillera Peoples
Alliance (CPA), the latest of which is an attempt to forcibly enter
the CPA office in Bulalacao, Mankayan, Benguet, where CPA's local
chapters MAQUITACDG and APIT TAKO hold office.
Today, March 3, three military men in full battle
gear led by a certain Avila, with two others who can only be identified
as Agustin and Layugan, proceeded to the office and coerced a local
resident, who is also a member of the local chapters, to open the
doors so they could get in, but the resident refused. This attempt
happened when many of the Apit Tako and MAQUITACDG staff, together
with leaders of the Lepanto Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU were in Manila
on a picket at the Lepanto National Office on the unjust wages and
work rotation schemes of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co.
Reports from our local chapters also state that
the military has started to conduct census surveys in Bulalacao,
and are asking what soft projects the barangay needs, For one, it
is the PopCom that is mandated to conduct household surveys. Similarly
in Baay Licuan, Abra, elements of the 41st Infantry Battalion conduct
households surveys an camped under residents' homes, until they
eventually extended their stay. sowing fear among local residents.
MAQUITACDG and APIT TAKO have long defended indigenous
peasants' rights in Mankayan, nearby Tadian in Mt. Province and
downstream Ilocos Sur against the pollution of major river systems
and destruction of main agricultural lands from the large mining
operations of Lepanto.
Militarization of indigenous communities where there
is opposition to destructive projects like large mining only intends
to secure and protect the State's economic interests at the expense
of indigenous peoples' right to ancestral domain and self determination.
In fact, UK-based mining company Bezant and local partner Crescent
Mining has started its drilling operations in Bulalacao and Guinaoang
barangays. Of government's 23 priority mining projects, five are
located in the Cordillera region.
Human rights violations will definitely ensue if Bulalacao and the
other barangays in Mankayan will be militarized, as such violations
are not new to Mankayan. We recall in 2004 the extrajudicial killing
of deaf mute Efren Agsayang, the mass arrests and physical injuries
to LEU officers and members and women in 2005. We recall the havoc
in Pananuman, Tubo, Abra in April 2008 with the dense military operations
of the 41st IB-bombings, harassment and intimidation and the killing
of senior citizen Mariano Galisen, and we do not want these to replicate
While we denounce any attempt to further militarize
and plunder Mankayan especially with Lepanto's expansion, we also
strongly condemn the continuing harassment of CPA officers and members
in Baguio City, especially at this time that we are still searching
for CPA founding member James Moy Balao.
We continue to appeal to the public and the media---to
peace and freedom loving individuals--- to denounce these unjust
acts against the CPA, its officers and members. #