July 31, 2011 in Cordillera
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — In a statement sent to the media, the spokesperson of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) said the miserable situation in the region of Ilocos and the Cordillera mirrors the dismal state of the country a year after President Benigno Simeon Aquino III took office.
According to Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, PNoy’s empty promises are reflected in the continuing violations and betrayal of the people’s right to land, livelihood and resources. “The real boss of the Aquino administration turns out to be not the Filipino people but US Imperialism as it furiously expands its economic interests as well as large scale corporate mines and geothermal and hydroelectric power projects in Northern Luzon and rams down the nation’s throat its Oplan Bayanihan (OPB), the so-called internal peace and security plan,” Naogsan said. He added that these worsen the national oppression against the indigenous peoples of the nation that has reached an ethnocidal level.
Naogsan said that the “daang matuwid” slogan of PNoy is no different from the substandard Halsema Highway with its erosion and slides, close-open status and serving mainly foreign interests in extracting super profits from the Cordillera region’s resources.
Naogsan lambasted the Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino rule saying that despite its deceptive features, it is fast showing up its true character compared to the Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 of the previous administration. He explained that the old tactic of “divide and rule” is being applied to exploit indigenous social, economic and political systems in its counter-insurgency operations.
“They target not only combatants but more so innocent civilians including minors and the elderly. Coining nice sounding contraptions to hide the harshness and vileness of Oplan Bayanihan does not succeed in erasing the notoriety of the AFP as armed units of the ruling class,” Naogsan said further.
The CPDF spokesperson also mentioned that in Aquino’s administration further ruin of hinterland communities of the region can be expected with over half of the Cordillera covered by various mining permits and exploration applications. “The mining operations of the US giant mining company, Phelps Dodge in Patiacan, Quirino, in Ilocos Sur and Batong Buhay, Pasil, Kalinga; Lepanto’s nine front companies planning to drill in 311,853 hectares more in 29 municipalities across six provinces; the 33 mining applications covering 292,600 hectares criss-crossing Abra; as well as Nickel-Asia’s take-over of the 194,640 hectares covered by Cordillera Exploration/Anglo-American Exploration all make a mockery of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process,” Naogsan explained.
Naogsan added that since the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) makes it a point to invent and recognize organizations of elders that eventually grant FPICs despite opposition from genuine peoples organizations, the provisions of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) has become a mechanism that acts as a milking cow for the corrupt bureaucracy.
Naogsan also criticized PNoy for its intensified implementation of the dole out Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that, according to him, insults and turn productive forces into beggars. He said that with much funds already spent, the health conditions and school infrastructures in the 49 CCT areas in the region have not yet improved and have even deteriorated. “Even in the province of Benguet, ironically one of the five richest provinces in the country and also a CCT recipient, one out of three schools do not meet the minimum standard of one seat for every student. As much as 20% of the P20 billion earmarked for CCT nationwide goes to trainings, additional staff and printing of manuals and not to the actual beneficiaries – a source of corruption for the DSWD,” Naogsan furthered.
Naogsan said that the shifting of political alliances strengthens the administration coalition but has brought warlord wannabes. “This early, politicians have sought to consolidate control and influence over stakeholders, wherein even a state college president has been a victim of vicious ploys to replace the position with a lackey of the incumbent Congressman,” he added.
Naogsan also said that a third attempt to push for an organic act creating a bogus Cordillera Autonomous Region to further co-opt political leaders and speed up the exploitation of its rich natural resources. He explained that regional autonomy is meaningless and counter-productive when political power is controlled by imperialism and the elite classes of landlords and the corrupt officials as well as criminals, opportunists and hypocrites. According to Naogsan, regional autonomy can only be achieved if the nation is free from foreign domination and free from oppression.
Naogsan also hit PNoy’s administration for cuddling the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA). “The Aquino regime seeks to resuscitate the comatose CPLA in order to project some progress in the peace talks that it currently sabotages thus stalling the Government of the Philippines (GPH)-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiations,” he added.
Naogsan said that despite these, the progressive legal mass movement has made significant strides in defending the land, livelihood and resources and the rights of the indigenous people. He said that militant delegations are being staged whenever there is rampant abuse by the military.
According to Naogsan, the Aquino administration failed miserably. He said that there is no clear cut difference between the present rule and the past administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “As in all the previous regimes, the Aquino regime in its first year in office failed to address but instead continued to perpetuate the historically rooted issue of national oppression being suffered by the national minorities of the Cordillera,” he said. # nordis.net