By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY – Aside from his total failure to uplift the situation of Cordillera indigenous peoples, the militant Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) said that Pres. Benigno C. Aquino III has no regard for justice to victims of human rights violations when it accommodated, as its economic partner in the region, “a para-military group known for its records of killing community leaders.
In an interview at a People’s SONA today, Monday, July 25, at the People’s Park here, CPA Secretary-General Abigail Anongos said that “PNoy has no regard for justice to victims of human rights violations when he embraced the CPLA, like his mother (the late president Cory Aquino), and gave the thumbs up for the armed group to be ‘converted’ into a socio-economic group, just recently.”
CPA, the oldest regional federation of indigenous community organizations, was founded in 1984, and counts more than 100 community and sectoral organizations in its membership in the region.
She added that the president made a mistake of accommodating them (CPLA), like his late mother did, even if it is a supposed conversion into a socio-economic group.
Anongos added that the CPLA were given privilege positions during the time of his mother who issued Executive Order 220.
EO 220 created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); the Cordillera Executive Board (CEB); and Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) which were controlled by the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBAd), CPLA’s political arm. It was dissolved during the time of ex-Pres. Joseph Estrada due to the demand of various sectors on alleged ineffectiveness and corruption.
“PNoy repeated history. We are very disappointed,” added Anongos. The CPA actively lobbied the regionalization of the Cordillera provinces, and during the 1986 Constitutional Commission for the incorporation of a provision for the autonomous region of the Cordillera.
The provision now mandates for the autonomous regions of the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao.
She added that the CPLA had committed various crimes and gross human rights violations.
”This same paramilitary group is the one accountable for the extrajudicial killing of CPA leaders and organizers like Ama Daniel Ngayaan and Romy Gardo―and yet, PNoy’s mother, former Pres. Cory Aquino, integrated the CPLA into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during her term,” CPA said in its statement issued in time for the SONA of Pres. Aquino. Ngayaan, a tribal leader of Tanglag, Kalinga was abducted by CPLA and his remains were never located up to this day. Gardo was a Tinggian youth leader who was murdered by the CPLA. Justice has never been served to the families of these CPA leaders, this writer learned.
Cordillera remains a mere resource base to government, CPA added, “the ancestral domain is a resource base where the plunder and exploitation by large multi-national mining and other destructive projects continue unabated.
It noted that the mining industry was further liberalized under PNoy, with mining investments having increased by 65% in 2010 alone. Since March 2011, approved mining agreements at a nationwide scale now reach 785, while mining concessions increased to cover 1,042.531 hectares compared to 782 hectares in 2009.
“247 applications were endorsed and approved under PNoy, and five of the 23 priority mining projects across the country are in the Cordillera. Of the Cordillera’s total land area of 1.8 million hectares, close to a million is covered by mining tenements,” added the CPA statement issued on time for Pnoy’s second SONA.
Apart from mining are projects to tap the region’s energy resources. Five geothermal projects are in the offing: the Acupan and Daclan projects in Benguet, the Buguias-Tinoc project in Benguet and Ifugao, the Mainit-Sadanga project in the Mountain Province and the Kalinga project.
The last is the biggest – involving substantial portions of the municipalities of Tinglayan, Pasil, and Lubuagan. It is being undertaken by the global energy giant Chevron, which has a clear track record violating indigenous peoples’ rights in the Amazon, CPA added.
”These developments pose serious threat to the Cordillera region, which is the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon,” added CPA pointing that the only source of the indigenous peoples livelihood – their ancestral lands – will be destroyed.
Comparing it with his predecessor in terms on the effect of militarization, CPA pointed out that PNoy’s administration is no different from GMA regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya I and II. “With PNoy’s Oplan Bayanihan, intense militarization continues in the region, with operations of the 501st, 502nd and 503rd Brigades, all under the 5th Infantry Division, it added citing reports from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) state that Oplan Bayanihan has intensified military operations in the Cordillera, resulting in the destruction of properties, bombings, shellings, sexual abuse, illegal search and seizure; threats, harassment and intimidation; illegal arrest and detention, and encampment.”
”It is true that one year is not enough for any president to resolve social and economic woesof the country – but one year is enough to create building blocks for genuine reform and set strategic directions for the Filipino people’s interests. Pnoy has simply failed to do this, and many were blinded with hype and rhetoric. What is clear is a year after the Pnoy presidency is an administration that tolerates and licenses corruption, human rights violations and further marginalizes the majority of the Filipino people,” CPA ended. # nordis.net