Indigenous Peoples of the Cordillera, Assert Our Right to Self Determination!
Tribal Filipino Week 2007
October 11, 2007
We celebrate this year's Tribal Filipino Week with renewed effort and commitment to step up our right to self-determination as indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. We welcome the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as it supports the world's indigenous peoples' struggle for self determination and beefs up local struggles for such by setting minimum standards at the international level for the respect of indigenous peoples' rights. The challenge now lies in the immediate implementation of the Declaration so that it will be meaningful to us.
This year's Tribal Filipino Week Celebration also coincides with the United Nations' Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, which gives once more added international focus on the fundamental rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples. In August 2007, we celebrated International Indigenous Peoples Day through a regional consultation and dialogue and by coming up with a Cordillera-wide Regional Program of Action with corresponding calls and demands to address urgent issues that affect us.
As we celebrate our renewed commitment to fight for our collective rights, we also pay homage to the heroes and martyrs of the Cordillera peoples' movement, especially Ama Daniel Ngayaan, as we commemorate the 20th Ngayaan Memorial this October. A respected tribal elder and leader from Tanglag, Lubuagan, Kalinga, Ama Daniel was one of the elder-leaders at the forefront of the successful Chico Dams opposition during the Marcos dictatorship. He was the chairperson of the Cordillera Bodong Association (CBA) and vice chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) when he was abducted and killed in the CPLA in 1987. His remains were never found. We also remember Malbong tribal elder and leader Rafael Markus Bangit of Kalinga, CPA regional council member and secretary general of the Binodngan Peoples Organization (BPO) when he was killed last year by military assassins and death squads of this regime. Like Ama Daniel, Makoy was one of the active Kalinga youth who participated in the Chico opposition, until he himself became a peacepact holder for his tribe and continued to serve the Cordillera peoples in their struggles.
The onslaught of globalization and the worsening economic crisis has pushed Cordillera indigenous peoples towards greater oppression and marginalization, and violations to our individual and collective rights keep mounting. While it has been a trying year for us, we did not succumb to these. Instead, we fought collectively as our ancestors did, to uphold our rights especially under the state terror unleashed by the Arroyo regime. Especially under this regime, our struggle for self determination was confronted with state terrorism, political persecution and killings. But we will not waver in this fight. We will remain steadfast and resolute as we continue to pursue our right to self determination, our right to own and control our lands, territories and resources, our right to free, prior, and informed consent among others.
We only have one Cordillera homeland to inherit and defend. Thus, the legacy of those who have gone ahead of us should not be in vain, as it is upon us to continue this task of ensuring that our right to self determination is recognized and upheld. ***
EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF NORTH CENTRAL PHLIPPINES
SOCIAL ACTION CENTER-DIOCESE OF BAGUIO
ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS BAGUIO-BENGUET
ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN IN THEOLOGY
REGIONAL ECUMENICAL COUNCIL IN THE CORDILLERA
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE