By KIMBERLY NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — On April 24, the anniversary of the murder of Ama Macliing Dulag, a Cordillera martyr who was among those who led the fight against the Marcos dictatorship’s Chico River dam project, the Cordillera Movement Against Tyranny (CMAT) was forged.
As part of the 34th Cordillera Day celebrations at Pacday Quinio Elementary School here in Baguio City; Igorot elders, martial law survivors, local officials, teachers and youth among others representing the six provinces and two cities of the Cordillera signed a declaration of unity to resist tyranny and uphold democracy.
“It is but right to form MAT Cordillera on Cordillera Day,” said Teddy Casiño, former Bayan Muna representative.
Casiño said that Cordillera Day is born our of the Cordillera people’s struggle against the Chico dams, a flagship project of the Marcos regime. He said that the Chico dam struggle is an anti-tyranny and anti-fascist struggle.
The former Bayan Muna solon said that the country is yet again up against another tyrant. He pointed to recent events as manifestations of the present tyrannical rule. Among these events include the death of 13 and arrest of 27 in one day in Bulacan due to the resumption of Operation Tokhang. He said that not only the rights of these individuals to life were violated but also their right to due process and rule of law.
Casiño also mentioned the proposed deportation of Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian nun who has been in the country and helping poor Filipinos for almost three decades now.
Joanna Cariño, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) said that Cordillera Day is an expression of the Kaigorotan’s fight for self-determination. She said that forging unities among Kaigorotan tribes and other people for the defense of the Cordillera homeland against destructive and oppressive projects is self-determination in practice.
Cariño added that the Kaigorotan does not exist in a vacuum. “Igorots are Filipinos, and has been part of the Filipino people’s fight for genuine freedom and democracy from the colonizers to martial law and until today,” she said.
She said the forging of MAT Cordillera is the Kaigorotan’s contribution to the present resistance to yet another tyrant.
Councilor Arthur Allad-iw of Baguio City also joined the MAT Cordillera. He called for wider unity towards upholding indigenous people’s rights and human rights of all.
Allad-iw said that only a united people can defeat the Duterte administration’s fascist rule as proven in history when the Cordillera people quelled the Marcos’ Chico dam projects and joined their fellow Filipinos in toppling the late dictator.
Representative Teddy Baguilat, Jr. of Ifugao expressed his support to CMAT in a message read during the CMAT launching. “Even if I am not there with you today, I am one with you in the formation of MAT Cordillera and with everyone who is fighting for democracy and freedom,” the lawmaker said in his message.
The Ifugao solon said that the people continue to suffer from terror tagging, extrajudicial killings (EJK) and other forms of human rights violation. He said that in Ifugao, Ricado Mayumi a known opposition to a hydropower project in Tinoc town was the recent victim of EJK.
“We should not be cowed. We have to unite and forge broader untiy with other groups to stand against this greedy dictatorship that threatens the region and the entire country,” Baguilat said. # nordis.net