13 November 2017
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) joins thousands of Filipinos in denouncing the presence of US President Donald Trump in the Philippines and protesting the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Summits that are being held in Manila and Clark, Pampanga from November 12-14. Trump and other Heads of States from 18 countries in 3 continents around the world (Asia, America and Australia) are in the country for the ASEAN Summit, East Asia Summit and bilateral talks with President Duterte.
There is no doubt that negotiations arrived at by Heads of States in the said talks will result in strengthened neoliberal policies, such as through various trade agreements, that will largely impact on the poor and marginalized sectors such as indigenous peoples. There is also no doubt that Trump and Duterte will strengthen US’ presence in the Philippines in the name of the US War on Terror, which will intensify the prevalent political extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations committed against indigenous leaders and communities.
We deplore the fascist US-Duterte regime for its crimes against the people, especially the marginalized indigenous peoples, perpetrated through repressive State policies, such as its counter-insurgency policy Oplan Kapayapaan, and heightened development aggression that further intensify violations to our ancestral land rights, indigenous peoples’ rights and human rights.
Numerous mining and energy projects in the region are mostly owned by trans-national companies. The US-owned world’s leading energy company Chevron intends to invest in three geothermal power projects in the Cordillera covering parts of the provinces of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Benguet and Ifugao and are targeted to commence in 2018. These are on top of 81 hydropower projects awarded by the Department of Energy that are monopolized by SN Aboitiz.
In addition, there are 11 approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) covering 15,543 hectares of land in the region, while there are Application for Financial and Technical Assistance (AFTA) that are currently being processed by MGB-CAR covering 107,085 hectares. This include AFTA No. 8 application of Cordillera Exploration Co., Inc. (CEXCI) covering 24,523 hectares in Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao and some parts of Ilocos Sur.
The region is heavily militarized, especially in areas where the said projects are located. The 24th Infantry Battalion, 81st Infrantry Battalion and 71st Division Reconnaissance Company under the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are currently sowing terror in Abra province and other parts of the Cordillera and Ilocos regions. In recent months, 5 women human rights defenders have been charged with trumped-up cases; communities, leaders and members of peoples organizations including members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance are continuously maligned, harassed and intimidated.
We call on the Duterte regime to heed the demand of indigenous peoples and the Filipino people for a truly independent economic policy and stop its collusion with the US in Philippine economic, political and military affairs. It must stop the unbridled plunder of indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands and our national patrimony, and put an end to State fascism and State terrorism that victimize the poor and marginalized.
We call on our fellow indigenous peoples to join the fight against US imperialism that is a leading violator of our rights as indigenous peoples and human rights.
A contingent from the Cordillera is joining the protest actions on November 13-14 in Manila to amplify the resounding call “Ban Trump in the Philippines.” A simultaneous protest action will be held in Baguio City on November 13 organized by Anakbayan-Cordillera and joined by various organizations and sectors.