By JEOFFREY MHAR LARUA
BAGUIO CITY — Indigenous folk in the Cordilleras marked the tenth (10th) year of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP), August 9, as a “day of struggle and celebration” in a move to push for the right to self-determination.
In an event led by grassroots organization Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), indigenous groups, along with other progressive and civic organizations vowed to assert for self-determination, identity, and peace.
“Our common plight as indigenous peoples experiencing national oppression, discrimination, development aggression and human rights violations strengthens our resolve to unite with indigenous peoples and other oppressed sectors in the Philippines, as well as our brothers and sisters in other nations,” said CPA chairperson Windel Bolinget in a statement prior to the event.
According to Bolinget, the continuous plunder of ancestral lands through destructive projects and militarization is an “outright attack on the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.” He also cited the apparent government neglect in interior indigenous communites, where “poverty, hunger, and lack of social services remain.”
Salidummays for indigenous rights
Cordilleran cultural groups during the event also performed salidummays and other cultural highlights in the struggle of the Igorots on various issues.
Songs dating back to the Chico Dam struggle were sung, including a performance of Siak ni Kaigorotan, a kullilipan detailing the bastardization of Igorot identity and ancestral lands.
Traditional dances were also performed to signify the unity of different Cordillera peoples.
Peace not war
Church groups who joined the celebration, meanwhile, called for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front, and the pull-out of military of troops in indigenous communities.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente jointly called on the government on the occasion to continue the peace negotiations as this will “bring about significant reforms” and will safeguard the indigenous people’s right to self-determination.
The Metro Baguio Tribal Elder Leaders Assembly (MBTELA), on the other hand, asserted for unity among different tribes in an effort to stop tribal wars.
The CPA, for its part, stated that there are similarities in the struggle of Cordilleran indigenous peoples with that of other indigenous peoples in the country and the globe.
“Our Lumad brothers and sisters have been consistently bombarded by human rights abuses by the military and paramilitary forces in Mindanao. Thousands are internally displaced due to the military operations that intensified with the declaration of martial law there,” said Bolinget referring to renewed threats by the Duterte government against Lumad communities. “These areas are under threat by unbridled plunder with the entry of similar large mining and energy projects. These areas of indigenous peoples are also consistently and defiantly united in opposing these projects,” he added.
The day coincides with the 10th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People’s Rights (UNDRIP). # nordis.net