Honoring Billy Claver

The book WILLIAM FUNA-AY CLAVER Selected Speeches and Statements – Towards Genuine Implementation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Law, was launched in Baguio City on December 14, 2011 through the efforts of Giovanni Reyes, with the help of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), editorial support from Kathleen Okubo, and funding support from Tebtebba Foundation. Here, the militant mass movement in the Cordillera paid tribute and honor to Atty. William Claver. The book launching was witnessed by more than 400 participants from all over Northern and Central Luzon, many of them indigenous peoples, who had just concluded a conference on destructive mining and human rights – topics close to the heart of Atty. Claver.

There were two earlier events where the CPA-CDPC network honored Atty. Billy Claver. These were during the April 24, 2002 celebration of Cordillera Day in Dupag, Tabuk, Kalinga, and at the 2009 10th Congress of the CPA in Baguio City. Even in a wheel chair, Atty. Claver was able to attend these two events and give more inspiring messages in response. He should have been at the third event which launched his book and which immortalizes in print his inspiring messages on human rights and indigenous people’s rights, but he was then already preparing for that legendary travel to the sky world. He finally bade goodbye the following day – December 15th. Some would say he just waited for his book to be launched.

The militant people’s movement can never give enough tributes and special honors for Atty. Claver: for his services, leadership, and inspiration in advancing human rights and indigenous peoples rights. As founding Chairperson of the CPA in 1984, and also as one of the founders of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) along with former Senators Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada, he played an indispensable role in the growth of the Cordillera people’s mass movement and the wider Filipino people’s movement for national freedom, social justice and democracy.

We in the Cordillera people’s movement have gained richly from working with Atty. Claver. This included research, substantial discussions, then principled unities and action on the particular agenda of indigenous peoples rights; whether as Regional Autonomy as the form of self-determination in the Cordillera, or legislation in the halls of Congress, or advocacy in the United Nations. Our collaboration with him was a rich combination of theory and practice. A historic and enduring result of the work with Atty. Claver is the CPA and what it has achieved up to the present.

The full name of the CPA is Cordillera Peoples Alliance for the Defense of Ancestral Domain and for Self-Determination. This vision was made more concrete by the basic CPA paper on the “Substance and Features of Self Determination in the Cordillera,” with Atty. Claver’s great contribution. The CPA as defined then when Atty. Claver was our Chairperson is the same today – advancing the particular agenda of indigenous people’s rights, and general human rights, as well as people’s development within the framework of nationalist democratic politics.

Even as we mourn Atty. Claver’s passing, we also celebrate his life and works. And we thank his family for having shared Atty. Claver with us. To paraphrase a great Asian teacher, “All men must die, but death varies in significance. Some deaths are lighter than a feather, while there are deaths as heavy as a mountain.” The passing away of Atty Claver is as heavy as the Cordillera mountains where he lived, served the people, and died. We will continue your legacy of courageous service to the people, and you will continue to inspire us. #

CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE: Regional Council and Advisory Council; Provincial Chapters: Abra, Benguet, Ifugao (Adhoc), Kalinga, Mountain Province, Baguio City and several municipal chapters; Regional Sectoral Alliances — APITTAKO regional peasant alliance, Kilusang Mayo Uno-Cordillera, Innabuyog regional women’s alliance, Organisasyon Dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (urban poor), Progressive Igorots for Social Action (PIGSA youth), AnakBayan Cordillera (youth), Cordillera Elders Alliance, Alliance of Concerned Teachers Cordillera, COURAGE Cordillera (government employees); 197 basic sectoral and community member organizations; International Solidarity Partners and CPA Friends Abroad.

Consortium of Development Programs in the Cordillera:
CDPC; CHESTCORE; CLC; CorDisRDS; CWEARC; CYC; DINTEG; Kaduami; MRDC; NMIN.

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