As rights violations intensify, CPA convenes congress on Int’l Human Rights Day


BAGUIO CITY — On the theme Resist the Fascist US-Duterte Regime! Courageously Advance the Struggle for Ancestral Land, Self-Determination and National Democracy, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance unites its members from indigenous peasant organizations, workers, youth and students, professionals, women and church people to confront the latest wave of human rights violations against activists perpetuated by the Duterte government.

CPA, which has 6 provincial chapters and 6 multi-sectoral member organizations, convenes tomorrow, December 10, some 200 delegates until December 12, 2017 here in the City. Community leaders from peasant, women and youth organizations will be presenting their issues to seek justice and accountability for violations of the Igorot rights to ancestral land, life and self-determination.

The Cordillera region has been declared by Philippine government as a priority area for military operations of the Armed Forces since February this year. Human rights violations under the Duterte regime heightened since. This year alone, Duterte with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Roy Cimatu has been in the league with corporate mining in dispossessing the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera by awarding hundreds of thousands of hectares to companies such as the Cordillera Exploration Company, Makilala Mining Company, Eltopan Resources Company for mining exploration.

They are also assisting SN Aboitiz in its quest for monopolizing the energy potential in the region by pushing through bigger operartions of existing hydropower projects in Ambuklao, Binga and Magat dams as well as the construction of 3 mega-dams in Alimit, Ifugao.

“These economic interests mean millions of pesos in corporate interest. Corporate interests that Duterte is so willing to cater to despite his initial pronouncements against the oligarchy. He is now colluding with big mining interests while critics face persecution at the hands of the AFP and PNP”, says Windel Bolinget, chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.

True enough, less than two weeks after the Duterte administration suspended peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, human rights violations escalated not only in the Cordillera but in the whole country. Many of its victims are members of progressive organisations in the legal mass movement who are critical of the Duterte administration. From February to December 5 this year, there have been at least 15 cases of illegal arrests and detention.

There are cases of trumped up charges against five women activists who are members of the CPA network providing much needed basic social and health services to marginalised indigenous communities. The countryside is rife with intense militarization, food/economic blockades, forced evacuation, indiscriminate air strikes using phosphorus bombs accompanied by heavy military operations under the 5th and 7th Infantry Division.

Abigail Anongos, current CPA secretary general says “We must band together especially in these trying times. CPA is hopeful and optimistic that in convening its congress and in the process of sharing our experiences and views we will emerge stronger as an organization”. #


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