Today on the second Sandugo General Assembly, we, Kaigorotan (indigenous peoples of the Cordillera), join other indigenous peoples and the Moro people nationwide in indicting President Rodrigo Duterte as the main implementer of national oppression or the systematic violation of our right to self-determination by government or the State and big businesses of the ruling few.
Our ancestral lands and collective right to self-determination are the foundation of our identity and survival as national minorities. The struggle for these rights historically defined us then and now, as we continue to confront national oppression that manifest in these forms: the violation of indigenous peoples’ prior rights to ancestral lands, through landgrabbing, oppressive laws and extractive projects; political misrepresentation and the non-recognition of indigenous socio-political institutions and processes; the commercialization and vulgarization of indigenous cultures; historical government neglect of social services; institutionalized discrimination; and militarization leading to ethnocide.
Duterte implemented the same neoliberal policies that make profit and plunder of our ancestral lands. It is made worse by the highly fascist character of the regime which has already caused the extrajudicial killing of indigenous human rights defenders, further militarization of indigenous communities leading to more human rights violations especially in Mindanao where martial law was declared, the heightened attacks on the people’s movement asserting for genuine change, and the issuance of fascist pronouncements (all out war, martial law, bounty for captured NPA) that make the civilian populace, national minorities included as open targets of extrajudicial killings and other forms of rights violations.
The Philippine State remains the biggest landlord and landgrabber in the Cordillera in collaboration with big mining and energy corporations that continue to plunder the homeland of Cordillera indigenous peoples. Neoliberal policies and fascist attacks against national minorities have also intensified under the Duterte regime.
The Cordillera is the watershed of northern Luzon but is ravaged by operations of mining and energy corporations. New applications alone cover 428, 046 hectares on top of the operations of Lepanto, Philex and Benguet Corporation. Of these, three are Applications for Financial and Technical Assistance (AFTA) that include Nickel Asia-Cordillera Exploration Company Inc’s (CEXCI) application for exploration and renewal of operations that would cover more than 60,000 hectares of ancestral lands in six provinces of the Cordillera and the adjacent Ilocos Sur. There are also 81 approved hydroelectric power plants with 16 pending, on top of the operations of Binga and Ambuklao. The entry of these big businesses violated indigenous peoples right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and did not recognize the non-consent of communities concerned; made use of State security forces and agents to secure its applications and operations, and worse, led to the political persecution of indigenous human rights defenders.
Oplan Kapayapaan is the militarization of our communities resulting in various human rights violations. With the all-out war policy unleashed by Duterte, and peace sabboteur Generals Esperon, Ano and Lorenzana, the AFP Northern Luzon Command intensified military combat operations in the Cordillera resulting to a week of forced evacuation in Namal, Ifugao, indiscriminate air strikes using phosphorous bombs in Malibcong, Abra that accompanied ground operations by the 24th Infantry Battalion under the 7th Infantry Division. From February – March 2017 alone, there were thirteen cases of illegal arrest and detention. These include the cases of five residents in Malibcong (including a minor) and Kalinga, and Sarah Abellon-Alikes, a Kankanaey, who hails from Mountain Province on February 9. Women human rights defenders in the region were subjected to political persecution through vilification in social media sites by the 24th IBPA in Abra and the filing of trumped up charges by the 7th Infantry Division in Ilocos Sur. Nine political prisoners are currently detained in Abra, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Baguio City including 74-year old Marcos Aggalao who is now confined at the ICU of the Kalinga Provincial Hospital.
It is on these grounds including the overall situation of indigenous peoples and the Moro people, that we indict Pres. Duterte and condemn the fascism of the US-Duterte regime.
It is on these grounds that we, Kaigorotan, pledge to strengthen further our movement indigenous peoples and national minorities to assert our self-determination and defend our ancestral lands.
For until our right to self-determination is recognized and genuine regional autonomy in place under a truly sovereign Philippines, the only recourse is to struggle for self-determination. CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE/ September 5, 2017