By CORDILLERA MOVEMENT AGAINST TYRANNY
Today, April 24, 2018, as we commemorate the 34th Cordillera Day, we remember events that breathed life into the Cordillera people’s mass movement for self-determination, genuine democracy and peace based on social justice. In this struggle, we remember the men, women and children, who courageously raised and continue to raise the banner of a society without class oppression and exploitation, a society without marginalization and discrimination, a society that justly distributes resources for the needs and welfare of the people, a society that fully recognizes the right to self determination and equality for indigenous peoples and national minorities. It is through constant painstaking sacrifices that this aspiration is nobly fought for in the face of tyranny.
These are challenging times.
These are times reminiscent of Martial Rule where the few ruling elite under the dispensation of a President like Rodrigo Duterte employs their powers to control the nation’s resources for greed and systematically subdue people’s rights.
Profit and militarization are prioritized over people’s needs and welfare. A greater part of the Philippine government’s budget has been deliberately allotted to debt servicing and military spending while the budget for agriculture, land reform and food security, housing, education and health care remain sorely insufficient especially for indigenous peoples and national minorities. Corruption remains a governance norm. While multinational corporations such as large mining, logging and energy companies and businessmen like Lucio Tan are being given tax holidays, the people are bled dry with joblessness, no work tenure security and more oppressive taxation such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). Public services have become more inaccessible to the people. This supposedly includes transportation that has become more expensive because of oil price hikes and the looming jeepney phase-out.
With the tyrannical rule of President Rodrigo Duterte, State institutions that should and must protect the rights of the people are shamelessly turned against the people themselves.
People who unite and act against social injustice, activists, human rights defenders and people exercising their legitimate right to political dissent against injustice are being branded as “enemies of the State” and “terrorists”. They are subjected to political persecution. This is aside from other violations such as facing trumped-up charges, illegal arrests, threats, harassment and intimidation and even extrajudicial killing.
State security forces are on the loose in an open season of attacks against the people. The Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command under Maj. General Emmanuel Salamat, its 5th and 7th Infantry Divisions, are notorious in violating human rights and international humanitarian laws. They are implementing Oplan Kapayapaan as they are tasked to implement a crackdown, and an undeclared martial rule in the region such that even the most basic of rights and freedoms of the people are curtailed.
Our history is replete with our people’s noble defense of land, life, and rights. Repression and plunder was faced with organized resistance. Fear was met with courage. Human dignity was defended and reclaimed even in the darkest and most difficult times.
Now we are called to forge greater solidarity.
We acknowledge that only in the people’s collective action can the despotic rule of Duterte be confronted and defeated. No tyrant can defeat the people.
We uphold that legitimate dissent and activism is noble and is an obligation of the people under a tyrannical rule.
Mabtad! Isakit ti kaaduan! Salakniban ken ilaban ti karbengan ti umili!
We link arms in forming the Cordillera Movement Against Tyranny.
We shall not feed our children and our people injustice. We shall not clothe them with fear. Our shelter as a people shall not be the prison. We shall not let our air be of unpeace. We will not be numbed and stripped of our rights. With courage, we shall face the fascist attacks against the people.
We are the people of the Cordillera, people of these mountain ranges, who humbly know how our strong fortresses break, tame and conquer storms.
Today, with the whole Filipino nation, we pledge to collectively resist and overcome tyranny, and to fight for self-determination. Mabtad Kordilyera! Labanan ti Tiraniya! # nordis.net