Organized by the Cordillera Alliance, Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society, United Filipinos UNIFIL-MIGRANTE HK, and BAYAN HK & Macau, Defend Cordillera Global Campaign Against Plunder and State Terror was successfully launched online in HK on 13 September 2020.
Jean Yap-eo, CORALL-HK chairperson welcomed the participants with her strong message, "Let not the distance hinder us from defending our land life and resources. As Cordilleran migrants, we have witnessed the plunder of our ancestral lands, our rich mineral resources, the displacement of our indigenous peoples. The promised development by our government is true only for the large mining corporations while we are forced to work abroad to support our loved ones." She sought solidarity from local human rights advocates and the international community to oppose and expose the atrocities committed by the Duterte government against frontline human rights defenders particularly from the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in the Philippines.
Josie Pingkihan, convenor of the Defend Cordillera Hong Kong campaign, reaffirmed the stand of the indigenous migrants to remain steadfast and resolute as they continue to pursue their right to self-determination, right to own and control their land, territory and resources. Their forefathers gave up their lives in the struggle and from this emerged the CPA as the organization in the frontline of defending their land, according to her.
She denounced the Duterte government's Anti-Terror Act that twisted the meaning of terrorism to attack the human rights defenders in order to pave the way for more plunder of their ancestral lands in the name of "development" for corrupt politicians and foreign mining corporations.
The global launch main speaker was Beverly Longid, spokesperson of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination & Liberation (IPMSDL) and a familiar figure among Cordilleran migrants in the past Cordillera Day celebrations in HK.
Through the concerted efforts of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance together with international solidarity activists and human rights advocates, the global campaign was simultaneously launched in Canada, Australia, US, Belgium and other countries in Europe on 12 September while the HK launch was done on the 13th in order to reach out to more migrants, according to her. Beverly pointed out that Defend Cordillera Ph is an education, mobilization and international solidarity campaign.
She attested that President Duterte's National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has been destroying the integrity of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, the biggest federation of indigenous peoples' and sectoral organizations in the region. Even worse, the smear campaign and attacks have included the families of the CPA leaders through systematic measures taken by the State to delegitimize the organization, she added.
"As we all experience extreme hardship brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Duterte government’s response has been incompetent, opportunistic and abusive in its militarist approach. Instead of proactively and comprehensively addressing the long-standing neglect of basic health needs and social services in marginalized communities, the Duterte regime is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to further intensify plunder and state terror in the Cordillera. The situation is alarming and urgent, pushing us to act now," she stressed.
Bruce Van Voorhis, a convenor of the HK Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP), pledged support for the campaign to Defend Cordillera Ph. He stated that when people defend human rights, they are being attacked.
Ma Wan Ki aka Ma Jai from the International Campaign (ICHRP) also expressed solidarity with the Cordilleran’s' who according to him "occupy a special place in my heart". He shared his experience when he visited and stayed with peasants' communities affected by militarization in Ifugao, Sagada and other places in the Cordillera. "You have inspired us in our own struggles in HK. On behalf of the League of Social Democrats, we stand with you side by side" he said.
UNIFIL-MIGRANTE chairperson Dolores Balladares Pelaez in her solidarity message expressed that the Global Campaign to Defend Cordillera is a platform that we can use to fight for the defense of ancestral land, life and resources and self-determination of the indigenous peoples. The acts of terror like red tagging, harassments, intimidation, false acquisition of land ownership, deception and worst death through extrajudicial killings must be exposed and stopped as well as the true characteristics of Duterte's tyrannical rule in our country.
BAYAN HK & Macau's solidarity message was delivered by Joseline Tanguid, chairperson of Pinatud a Saleng ti Umili (PSU), member of BAYAN HK. She exhorted the people to fight against the Duterte government's anti-migrant policies, against poverty, against terror attacks, against social exclusion. "Even if we are not Cordillerans, let us unite to defend Cordillera because this means defending peace loving Filipinos," she said.
The online program featured the rich culture of the Cordillera through animated video presentation from Ann & Bing Wu of Same Same Different group, a supporter of the Defend Land, Life & Resources (DLLR) Coalition and the HKCAHRPP.
DLLR-HK spokesperson Vicky Casia read out "Our Global Pact to Defend Cordillera", that was initially circulated globally as component of the Global campaign. 72 organizations plus 17 individuals signed in Hong Kong. Specifically, the Global Pact calls for the following:
"We choose to stand with the Cordillera people. We commit to Defend the Cordillera. We call to Defend CPA. In the indigenous Cordillera tradition of community solidarity, we signify our unity and commitment through this Global Pact to: Strengthen and broaden international solidarity and support for the Cordillera peoples struggles; Participate in activities, campaigns, advocacy and other arenas of mass struggle to empower, spread awareness, encourage active participation and gather support for Cordillera indigenous peoples’ issues and concerns; · Condemn all attacks against the land and lives of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera, and demand accountability from the state, its agents and private corporations responsible for such offenses."###
Global Campaign to Defend Cordillera- Hong Kong
Tel No.: 852- 94580330