By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
The Cordillera peoples mass movement led by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) unveils the heroes and martyrs’ marker on April 23, 2017 in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga despite the blatant moves of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) to sabotage the installation. Leaders of the community and relatives of the heroes namely, Macliing Dulag, Lumbaya Gayudan, and Pedro Dungoc Sr. stood their ground and constructed the long awaited monument to commemorate the three warriors.
It is said that the CPLA planned to set up a separate marker for Macliing and Dungoc with the assistance of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). This was however rejected by most of the elders who witnessed and participated in the anti Chico dam struggle. For Ama Banag, allowing any government agency fund the construction of the memorial of Macliing and other martyrs is like spitting on the graves of the people’s heroes.
“That is a surrender of what the heroes, martyrs and the Kalinga people have fought for. Who killed Macliing? Is it not the machinery of the government?,” Banag said adding that it is only proper that the Cordillera peoples movement that is continuing the work begun by the heroes and martyrs is given the honor to set up the marker and not any branch of the government.
Remembering the honor and rejecting historical revisionism
Banag iterated that during the struggle against the Chico Dam project, Kalinga and Bontoc peoples fought against the government’s oppression. “Remember, we barricaded, lobbied, forged wider unity, some sacrificed their lives and took arms to defend this land until the project was halted.” He added that it was one of the darkest years in the province and people should not allow any distortions of the facts.
The Kalingas in the Cordillera region have a long history of upholding their community’s honor in the defense of the people’s ancestral domain. When the Chico River was eyed for a series of mega dam projects in the 1970s to 1980s by the Marcos dictatorship and the World Bank, their tribes were never silent.
Regardless of their educational status, they were not intimidated to face government officials up to the national level in the lobby for what they want and bravely presented their dissent to the intrusions in their territories. Their warrior tradition was reflected in a series of barricades and protests actions. The women fought side by side with the men. They dismantled military and National Power Corporation (NPC) tents in Mosimos and carried these to Camp Duyan. They even bared their breasts to shame the army who were serving as NPC’s security guards.
Protest leaders were arrested including Macliing Dulag and imprisoned in Camp Olivas. The resistance was more en-flamed when on April 24, 1980, Macliing was gunned down in his home in Bugnay, Tinglayan by state forces led by Lt. Leogardo Adalem. Pedro Dungoc, his neighbor, was also wounded in the same raid but was able to flee and later join the New Peoples Army (NPA) where he continued to defend the home land, life and resources until his last breath.
Macliing’s death widened the unity of the anti-Chico dams sentiment from Mountain Province to Kalinga. A multilateral bodong was forged with the objective of defending their home land.
The courage of the venerated pangat Ama Lumbaya Gayudan of the Butbut tribe of Ngibat, Tinglayan took arms to concretize his defense of the ancestral domains. He was a respected elder and a peace pact holder. The resistance in its various forms during this time successfully stopped the project.
Relive the honor
Kalinga Province has not lost its legacy of unity to resist the plunder of their land and resources. It has many vibrant sons and daughters who shall persist against all odds to defend what has been safeguarded by their forebears. This vibrance is now challenged by the intensifying entry of ‘development projects’ ranging from mining, geothermal and hydro projects accompanied by widespread militarization.
Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver were killed by state assassins in 2006. The son and daughter of Kalinga who were resolute in the fight for the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. They were killed in the state’s aim to silence the protesting masses like they did to Macliing Dulag.
A challenge is then being posed to all i-Kalinga to bring back the honor of the ones who have gone before us by forging a wider and stronger unity against corporate plunder of our ancestral land’s resources. Hear the chant from the Chico River dams struggle, echoing the call to wake the sleeping warriors:
Pasil, Chico, Tanudan
Lumigwat tako losan ay, ay (Let’s all rise)
Ay, ay Salidummay
Ay, ay Salidum-salidummay
Sayang no dik ilaban (It’s a waste if I cannot fight/defend)
Pita un natagoan ay,ay (for the land that has given us life)
Ay, ay salidummay
Ay, ay salidum-salidummay
Yes, the World Bank funded Chico River Dams project during the Marcos dictatorship was stopped but danger is again before us, as many foreign corporations have renewed their interest for minerals, forest, steam, and rivers of the province. The land and resources that have sustained the lives of tribes in Kalinga are again threatened of being grabbed from its stewards.
Grabbing our Mt. Binulauan
In the records of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), nine ancestral domains in the municipalities of Tinglayan, Lubuagan and Pasil, a more or less 26,000 hectare land area is covered by Chevron’s geothermal exploration application. This US based giant corporation is eyeing to set up a geothermal power facility in Mt. Binulauan which is located in the tri-boundary of the three municipalities. It stands 7,641 ft and is classified by the PHILVOLCS as an active volcano with fumarole fields and hot springs on its slopes. One fumarole field is located in Dananao, Tinglayan called Suku-u’ and other two are in Balatoc, Pasil which are the Bu-ot and Bum-bag fumarole fields. Its hot springs are in Tulgao, Tinglayan called by the locals as, A-attungan and in Western Uma, Lubuagan’s Sun-ot.
Initial findings of Chevron from its exploration activities estimated Binulauan’s geothermal capacity between 120MW to 200MW. Chevron has even announced its timetable of setting up the facility by 2017. Despite a number of documented oppositions from various tribes affected, it has flaunted that it has secured a 100% consent from the indigenous peoples in the area.
In research activities of the Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC) in Uma, Lubuagan; Tulgao, Tinglayan and Dananao, Tinglayan, it was gathered that Chevron violated numerous collective rights of the indigenous peoples. It has employed various tactics including bribery to divide the tribes just to be able to secure the required free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
In Uma, Lubuagan, the division is highly observable with the rift between the pro and anti. Elders are co-opted and have already given their consent to the company without considering those opposed. In Tulgao and Dananao, the division is starting to cripple their tribal unity. In the interviews made among the members of the tribes, Chevron has conducted meetings not only inside their communities but also they have chosen attendees who received per diems and were brought to meetings conducted in several hotels in Tabuk City. It was in these hotels that some of the memorandum of agreements (MOA) were drafted and signed.
In the consultations inside the communities facilitated by the NCIP, information divulged to the people was insufficient. The company only stressed that the project would bring development in the province of Kalinga. It has used the government’s negligence to give social services to lure the communities for the project. It promised scholarships, roads, path ways and many other public services long denied by the government. The offer to answer for the absence of the basic public services was used to cripple the united resistance of the communities.
It is not however unusual for a company like Chevron to violate the rights of the i-Kalinga. They did it in Mountain Province, Benguet and Ifugao. They did the same thing to several under developed countries, around the Globe. In fact, Global Exchange, an international human rights organization, labeled Chevron as number 2 most wanted corporate human rights violator in 2012 with the Bank of America as number 1. Chevron was listed number 2 worled violator in the report for damaging the ecosystem in Ecuador, and repressing protest to oil extraction in Brazil. Its pollution and neglect in the Northern Amazon, human rights abuses in its oil project site in Burma, Thailand and many other cases in North America were not included in Chevron’s sins yet it ranked number 2 world human rights violator.
With the notoriety of Chevron as a human rights violator, the people of Kalinga cannot afford this company to take control of Mt. Binulauan. Binulauan is a common Kalinga term for gold or precious. This mountain is precious not only for the tribes in the three municipalities but to the whole of Kalinga.
Binulauan houses the watershed supplying numerous creeks that flows down to Pasil and Bonog rivers and unites with the mighty Chico River giving life to the rice paddies along the river banks downstream until Tabuk, considered the rice granary of Kalinga. Tulgao and Dananao tribes have expressed their strong opposition especially when they learned that geothermal facility needs large volumes of water to harness more steam from underneath the earth.
Makilala and CEXCI’s dirty plans
Another burning issue in Kalinga today is mining especially in Pasil where the Batong Buhay Mines once operated but was stopped by communities because of its adverse effects downstream. The renewed interest of mining companies to mine Pasil and other areas in the province started in 2005 with Makilala Mining Company and Cordillera Exploration Incorporated (CEXCI). Since then, it has triggered tension among the communities. It even sparked a tribal war over a boundary dispute.
For some time, the issue was silent until today that Makilala renewed its pursuit for implementing the project. It covers the ancestral domains of the Colayo, Guina-ang and Balatoc tribes. Exploration activities are ongoing in Balatoc while the processes of FPIC are still being sought from two other tribes.
Recently, the FPIC processes within the ancestral domain of Guina-ang were questioned and found fraudulent. The Guina-ang Indigenous Peoples Organization (GIPO) came out with a manifesto rejecting the mining project because it is in conflict with the tribe’s other source of livelihood, small scale mining. Also, a case has been filed against the NCIP Kalinga because of the irregularities in the FPIC process.
Members of the tribe said the local NCIP was manipulating processes during the consultations. The Resolution of Consent was drafted by the said agency and community members signed even without a clear understanding of the project. Thus, in a manifesto, they are asked to declare the resolution void.
They also questioned the formation of the council of elders facilitated by NCIP. One tribe member said, a council was already in place prior to the entry of mining applications and their council of elders, he said, represents all the barangays belonging to Guina-ang tribe namely Guinaang, Pugong, Malucsad, Galang, Bagtayan and Dangtalan. NCIP has however created a council of elders for them to manipulate their true consent, he said.
In Tawang, Balbalan, CEXCI’s mining operations was met with rage by the people because CEXCI came to the community like thieves in the night. The company started its mining operations even without the conduct of an FPIC process. Tawang people then called for the immediate pull out of the company from their land.
The story of a “tribe’s resurrection” became a burning issue among the Naneng tribe in Dupag, Tabuk, Kalinga when a Minanga tribe suddenly came into the picture claiming to be initiating the dam project along sabangan (meeting point) of the Tanudan River and Chico River. Leaders of the Malbong and Naneng tribes said that Minanga was already subsumed long ago into the Naneng tribe.
This project, the Upper Tabuk Hydroelectric Power Project (UTHPP), is implemented by the DPJ Engineers and Consultants. The I-Naneng said that DPJ knows that the majority of the affected communities are opposed to a dam project considering that Dupag people were the ones who dismantled the camps of the NPC during the Chico River Dams project protests. But in the pursuit of this 10MW hydro project, they formed the Minanga ICC with the certification from the NCIP to justify that it was a project initiated by the said cultural group.
The leaders of the Naneng tribe stressed that if you are talking of Minanga today, you are not referring to a tribe or an ICC but a sitio which is part of Dupag. Leticia Bula-at, a feisty woman leader, said that Minanga cannot decide the fate of Dupag and all that are affected by the project. Their protest reached Congress and today the project proponents are silent. It is still recorded though in the list of awarded hydro power projects in the Department of Energy as of December 2013.
Aside from the UTHPP, major rivers of Kalinga are blanketed with hydro projects. Pasil River is applied for by PNOC-Renewables Corp with two hydros with a capacity of 22MW and 20MW. The Saltan River in Balbalan is also applied for by the same company with a 24MW hydro project. A 4.32MW mini hydro project of Pan Pacific Renewable Power Phils is eyed along the Chico line in Bugnay, Tinglayan.
Tabuk valley is the rice granary of Kalinga. Residents from the upland villages of Kalinga always go down to Tabuk to buy rice during a rice crisis. Geographically, Tabuk is a valley shaped like a basin. With the applied projects, however, Gloria Pisipis of Innabuyog-Kalinga said the province’s basin will soon become a toilet bowl of corporations. She noted during an interview that people cannot discount the role of the tribes in the lowland Kalinga in the stoppage of the Batong Buhay Mines in the 1980s. Their rice fields were the first to be affected by the silt and chemicals that flowed through Pasil River down to the Chico River. The protest in the lowland was stronger than that in the upland before and that can happen again. She posed a challenge to all i-Kalinga to stand with them in saving the rice granary.
Recently, fascism has heightened in the province. Above the countless sins of the 503rd Infantry Brigade, the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army occupied civilian homes, Church and school in Western Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga. Reports from a solidarity mission showed that fear has engulfed the community due to unabated threats, harassment, and intimidation committed against the people. Women and children are harassed psychologically and verbally.
In Tanglag, the community was able to push the elements of the 50th IBPA out of their village after a month of military occupation.
In the barrios of Pinukpuk and Balbalan, military abuses ranging from intimidation to illegal arrests continue.
All over the province, the recruitment for Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) is massive with the promise of higher pay.
Lessons from the Chico Dam struggle shows that fascism is the tool of the government and corporations to quell peoples resistance when deception did not work. During the Marcos dictatorship, they co-opted and corrupted some of the locals to divide them and weaken their will. Today, their tactics did not change. Corporations and the government are capitalizing on the effects of government neglect like poverty to their advantage by acting as saviors. When people still resist the projects, they persecute them politically by tagging them as members or supporters of the communist rebels to discredit their positions. Military presence in the villages affected by geothermal, hydro power, dams and mines heightened since the last quarter of 2015 to present.
History however remind fellow Kalingas of the shining courage and bravery of our forebears. They were never cowed by the state deception and fascism. The list of heroes and martyrs in the struggle for ancestral land rights and self-determination is endless. With the continuing and escalating threats against our land of birth, there is nothing more honorable than to live out the courage and commitment of our forebears.
May the sound of gongs from Chico river to Tanudan river to Saltan river of Balbalan call Hotad to save our homeland from the threats of corporate greed. May the beat of the gongs awaken all those in the concerned government agencies to heed the calls of the I-Kalinga against projects that run contrary to the communities’ right to self-determination and their choice for their people’s progress, for development. Only unity in the struggle to defend our homeland can the Kalinga truly shine. Let us heed the Hotad and dance together in struggle to save the land which nurtures and gives us life. # nordis.net