• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

35th Cordillera Day celebration, a resistance against the tyranny of the Duterte regime and reverberation of the politics of change

April 30, 2019

The 35th celebration of the annual peoples’ Cordillera Day, spearheaded by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, is a huge success for the Cordillera people amidst the intensified political repression and tyranny of the Duterte regime. It galvanized the unity and solidarity of Cordillera indigenous peoples, joined by indigenous peoples and advocates from various parts of the country and abroad, to fight against the tyranny of the Duterte regime. It was a coordinated action in the whole region and Hong Kong, which reverberated the Cordillera people’s call for the politics of change in light of the May 13, 2019 elections.

The celebrations were held on April 21 in Hong Kong; simultaneously on April 24 in Baguio City, Kalinga and Abra; simultaneously on April 27 in Mountain Province, Ifugao and Apayao; and on April 29 in Benguet. Bearing the central theme, “Resist tyranny. Advance the politics of change and self determination!” the celebrations in the Cordillera were participated by about 3,000 representatives of various organizations from the different provinces of the Cordillera, Baguio City, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Panay, Mindanao, Taiwan, USA, Myanmar, Nepal, Malaysia, and Germany. The celebration in Hong Kong was participated by about 500 Cordillera migrants, migrant workers and advocates.

According to CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget, “Politics of change is a change in the current political and economic system towards genuine development and recognition of our rights as indigenous peoples to our ancestral lands and self determination. It means voting for the right candidates and partylists that truly advance the rights and welfare of the Cordillera people and marginalized sectors, like Bayan Muna Partylist, senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, and some local candidates. The Cordillera Day delegates united and agreed on local peoples’ electoral agenda in the different provinces, which contains our aspirations and demands in relation to the issues that we face and for new politics.”

The Cordillera Day celebrations were a mix of march-rallies, workshops, forum, concert and cultural exchanges, visits to the site of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and the sites of the Ambuklao and Binga dams, local candidates’ forum, and miting de avance of the Makabayan Coalition with local candidates.

“The 35th Cordillera Day celebration also demonstrated our continued resistance against the plunder and destruction of our ancestral lands and resources, particularly by the dam projects of SN Aboitiz (Alimit Hydropower Complex), Pan Pacific Renewable Power Corp. (Guined Dam), and other hydropower projects; and the mining application of the Cordillera Exploration Co., Inc,” added Bolinget.

“The Cordillera Day celebrations highlighted our urgent demand for the cancellation of the onerous and anomalous loan agreement between the governments of the Philippines and China for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project. This project as well as the Alimit dam, Guined dam and other dam projets continue to violate our right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and self determination as indigenous peoples. We continue to call on the government and private corporations to respect our right to FPIC and not manipulate the FPIC process. The dam projects must stop to prevent the destruction of our lands and communities,” said Bolinget.

“The tyranny of the Duterte regime is also demonstrated by the intensified terrorist tagging and political vilification of peoples’ organizations, human rights defenders, and progressive partylists and electoral candidates. The Cordillera Day celebrations denounced these attacks that are mainly due to our legitimate dissent against human rights violations, mining and dam projects, and the anti-people and anti-poor policies of the Duterte regime, including TRAIN Law 1 and 2 and the Rice Tarrification Law,” added Bolinget.

Bolinget further said, “The Cordillera Day celebrations also reiterated anew our call for the resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to address the root causes of the armed conflict in the country towards attaining a just and lasting peace.”

The 35th Cordillera Day also paid tribute to Cordillera martyrs and heroes who bravely fought against destructive dams and mines, militarization and human rights violations. Cordillera Day also served as an inspiration to continue the legacy of our forefathers in defending the Cordillera land and people. #

Windel Bolinget
Chairperson, CPA