On April 24 and 27, the 35th Cordillera Day celebrations will take place in the different provinces of the region and Baguio City and will also be celebrated by Cordillera migrant workers in Hong Kong on April 21. Spearheaded by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), the celebrations will tackle peoples’ issues and their electoral agenda, which are guided the central theme “Resist tyranny! Advance the politics of change and self determination!”
According to Windel Bolinget, CPA Chairperson, “The 35th Cordillera Day celebration will serve as venue to strengthen the Cordillera peoples’ struggle against the worsening tyranny of the Duterte regime, and for the defense of our ancestral lands and resources from plunder and destruction by mining and energy companies like SN Aboitiz, Pan Pacific Power Corporation and the Cordillera Exploration Co., Inc.”
The decentralized celebrations will tackle local issues on mining, dams and other hydropower projects, the controversial Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, militarization and human rights violations, and economic policies that affect Cordillera communities.
“At present, we are experiencing a systematic attack by State security forces against activists and peoples’ organizations, such as harassment, surveillance, political vilification and terrorist tagging. These human rights violations and the militarization of communities must immediately stop to prevent further damage to our wellbeing. We reiterate our call for the resumption of the peace talks in order that the root causes of the armed conflicts in the country are resolved and we can achieve just and lasting peace,” said Bolinget.
“We also reiterate our demand for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project loan agreement to be junked due to its onerous and anomalous contents. The project also violated the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the affected communities. There was no full disclosure of the project details including the contents of the loan agreement. FPIC was not secured prior to the signing of the loan agreement and commencement of construction activities. Economic policies that are anti-poor such as the Rice Tariffication Law and TRAIN 1 and 2 should also be scrapped because these are pushing further the poor people deeper into poverty,” added Bolinget.
In light of the upcoming elections, the Cordillera Day celebrations will also promote the politics of change, tackle the peoples’ electoral agenda, and serve as an opportunity to express support for progressive candidates and partylists.
Bolinget said, “We have no illusion that an election can solve the rotten political system and the entrenched problems of our society. But election serves as a venue for us to assert our call for politics of change, which means a change in the political system towards genuine development that leads to overall progress. It also means the recognition of our right to self determination as indigenous peoples and our own control of our ancestral lands and resources. We support Senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, the Partylists belonging to the Makabayan Coalition, and other progressive national and local candidates who espouse the politics of change.”
The Cordillera Day celebrations will be held on April 24 at the Peoples’ Park in Baguio City; Tabuk, Kalinga; Bangued, Abra; and Mankayan, Benguet. On April 27, the celebrations will be held in Bontoc, Mountain Province; Lamut, Ifugao; and Conner, Apayao.