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Statement on the Plan of Department of Public Works and Highways Upper Kalinga District Engineering Office (DPWH UKDEO) to Put Up a Monument for Local Cordillera Heroes

March 1, 2021

The Department of Public Works and Highways Upper Kalinga District Engineering Office (DPWH UKDEO) plans to put up a monument for local Cordillera heroes.

The monument to honor our local heroes was a pioneer initiative by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) which recognizes and popularized the peoples’ victory against the attempt of the government and its corporate allies to plunder the Cordillera’s natural resources.

In a photo posted on the Kalinga Tourism Office facebook page, it shows a composite of the project featuring the metal panels from the demolished Heroes Monument which was put up by the CPA in partnership with the community of Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga in April of 2017. This came as a surprise as there have been no proper coordination, with CPA nor with the artists who designed the first monument, for the use of the artworks.

In addition to the issues of proper communication, credit and intellectual property rights, what is the purpose behind such a plan to put up a monument when the first one was desecrated?

Does this mean that the government through the DPWH UKDEO recognizes the activist tradition of defending our homeland through collective action? By honoring the heroism of the three Cordillera martyrs who fought against a government-sactioned destructive project, will the government now take decisive action against development aggression and its encroachment on ancestral lands of indigenous peoples?

Furthermore, Macliing died by the hands of state armed forces and many of those who followed in his footsteps were killed in the same way. Our local heroes are also icons of brave resistance against intense state repression.We seek justice for them up to this day. Will UKDEO stand with us and the family of these victims of state attacks to finally find justice and healing after so many years? These are what the Heroes' Monument stands for that can not be reduced to mere aesthetics.

If we recognize the exemplary heroism of those who offered lives to protect our ancestral lands, it logically follows that we must defend those who dare to take up the same challenge and carry on this example.

The CPA put up the first Heroes' Monument to honor those who bravely fought for land, life and resources during the dark era of Marcos' dictatorship. In putting up a monument for them, the CPA reaffirms an unwavering commitment to carry on this legacy for the defense of our ancestral lands and genuine peace in the Cordillera.

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