Cordillera joins ASEAN protest


MANILA — “We came all the way from the Cordilleras to register our call to stop imperialist attacks against our people and our land,” said Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)’s Sarah Dekdeken.

A Kankana-ey Igorot, Dekdeken, along with a contingent from the region, came to Manila to participate in the three-day protest against the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, and US President Donald Trump’s presence in the country.

In her speech during the protests’ culminating event at Mendiola, Dekdeken said that the Cordillera has been a target of more than a hundred years of “US-led imperialist plunder” due to its rich resources.

“Imperialist powers have continued to plunder our lands with destructive mining and energy projects, continuing to displace our people and take away the Kaigorotan’s heritage,” said Dekdeken.

The ASEAN Summit brought together leaders of Southeast Asian nations, along with “dialogue partners” Australia, Canada, China, the European Council, Japan, India, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.

According to Dekdeken, numerous mining and energy projects in the region are trans-national companies. She adds, US-owned energy company Chevron intends to invest in three geothermal energy projects covering parts of the provinces of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Benguet.

“Almost all of the Cordillera’s land area have been tapped for mining exploration,” she said.

A recipe for fascism

Dekdeken also said that where “these imperialist projects” are, brings with it “incessant waves of militarization to indigenous communities.”

“The Cordillera is already heavily militarized especially in areas where these projects are located. The Philippine military is used by these imperialist powers as protection,” she said.

The Philippine Army’s (PA) 24th and 81st Infantry Battalions, and the 71st Division Reconnaissance Company under the 7th Infantry Division are currently operating in the region.

“These military forces protecting destructive projects in our land, have been sowing terror among our peoples. In Abra, a community was bombed last March. Recently, five women human rights defenders have been charged with trumped-up cases. Activists, community leaders, and civilians fighting against destructive projects are continuously maligned,” said Dekdeken. #


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