By CORDILLERA PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC FRONT
As a member organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) takes pride and joy in the recent events following the progress towards long and lasting peace; with the Government of the Philippines, under the Rodrigo Duterte administration, showing cooperation at the other end of the negotiating table. The CPDF-Ifugao, in particular, places great expectations in the next phase of the peace talks as a comprehensive agreement for much-needed socio-economic reforms will be in its crux. We, thus, enjoin all local government officials in the province to take a more active role in the peace process by launching an education and information campaign regarding such reforms.
It cannot be denied that the Ifugao people have long borne the brunt of various social, economic and political injustices on their backs while fighting to change the system at the same time. For starters, food production remains very low due to the insufficiency of support for the agricultural sector. The national government tends to allocate the already scanty funds to mere roadworks – which are absolutely necessary but not the most prudent solution to the situation. Such approach is based on the framework that the peasant masses of Ifugao have the necessary capital and instruments to sell produce. It dismisses the truth that the people produce less and less every year thus resulting in undernourishment. It puts the people in a situation wherein they are forced to borrow money, and sometime even land – with high interests – in order to be able to participate in commercial agriculture. Thus, aside from hunger, they drown in the never-ending cycle of indebtedness. Agricultural support in Ifugao, therefore, should not stop simply at road construction but prioritize the subsidy of impoverished farmers and gardeners and the provision of appropriate technology to raise production levels.
It is, by no means, your fault that such is the trend in budget allotment. After all, various programs and projects promoting commercial farming were already put in place (One Town One Product, marketing of the tinawon and other “Ifugao” rice, etcetera) by previous administrations ignorant of the Ifugao people’s plight. To make matters worse, it promotes liberalization in agriculture thus giving way to a tight and unregulated control of giant agribusinesses in the market, to the detriment of poor corn and vegetable producers.
But you can prove to be different from the national level by supporting the national minorities’ (NM) struggle to preserve the progressive components of their traditional way of land ownership and cultivation, apropos to their struggle for their right to self-determination. It is a just fight supported by and within the national democratic movement.
The CPDF-Ifugao believes that you would make a huge difference if you could conduct forums and various other venues to learn even more deeply the socio-economic situation in the ground and build unities with your constituents. For example, while agriculture is priority, social service is another vital issue. Availability and accessibility are to be considered, with the latter to be addressed by necessary infrastructure. Also, the plunder and privatization of resources found in the area is a violation of NM rights and should be staunchly opposed. Instead, water systems and other natural riches should be developed and utilized for the people’s welfare, not for big businesses’ profit.
Please note that present circumstances of intense military and “civil-military” operations will, in effect, dissuade the people from participating in such forums. To ensure that you will have a well-represented and rewarding discussion, all forces of the Philippine Army must go back to their barracks. Their presence in the barrios and all throughout the guerrilla zone is already a violation of the agreed-upon ceasefire. It would be even more of an infringement once discussions begin because of its inevitable severe effect on the people’s political right to assert necessary and appropriate socio-economic changes.
We are one with the entire revolutionary movement in the belief that there cannot be any genuine peace without social, economic and political fairness. Implementing revolutionary socio-economic reforms is the next step towards peace. For the largest part of history, the bureaucracy is tasked with promoting and defending the rotten current system. Now, this time in history present you with the opportunity to be part of the change. It is with optimism that the revolutionary masses of Ifugao await your response to this challenge. # nordis.net