By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “Autonomy will be present if development aggression is absent.”
“How can we have a discussion of an autonomous region in the Cordillera when development aggression continuous and the Indigenous Peoples are continually being displaced and being deprived of their rights to the utilization of their own ancestral domain?, ” retorted one Cordillera Elder.
Abraham Batawang of the Movement for the Advancement and Inter Tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD) said that under genuine autonomy here in the Cordillera, the IP of the region should be respected. He stressed that since the Cordillera IP is the caretaker of their ancestral domain, their stand on preserving the land that they inherited from their forefathers shall be respected by the government.
Ti pudno nga otonomiya ket diay madengngeg dagiti boses dagiti nainsigudan nga umili nu kasano a maprotektaran ken mapadur-as ti tawid da a daga babaen iti bukod da a pangngeddeng. Ti kayat na a saoen ti bukod a pangngeddeng ket dagiti umili a mismo ti mangibaga nu kasano a mausar ti rekursos a maiyannatop iti kultura da ken ti kapanunotan da nu kasano ti sumarsaruno a kaputotan” (the true autonomy is when the voices of the IPs are really heard how to protect and develop their ancestral land by way of self determination. This means that the people themselves will determine how to manage the use of their resources according to their culture and the future of the following generations, said Batawang.
He added that the IPs aspire for a true recognition of their rights and not just in paper where the word autonomy seems to be written up as a simple word without substance at all.
Batawang said that if the government is sincere in talking autonomy with the Cordillera IPs and the rest of the Filipino IPs, it should review the laws and policies that allow development aggression that only brings wanton exploitation and destruction of their homeland.
“And with development aggression comes the militarization of the IP communities especially those staunchly opposed to large-scale mining and logging corporations are persecuted with the state’s blessing in the guise of counter-terrorism or the administration’s Oplan Bayanihan. It is such an insult and so degrading that Cordillera IPs while they are being killed one by one, are being forced or being fooled to accepting a bogus autonomy.
In addition, Batawang also criticized the government of President Benigno Aquino III for spearheading and insisting on a political structure that the people have already rejected twice. “Ti birbiruken ti tattao karkaro dagiti nainsigudan nga umili ti Kordilyera ket pudno nga otonomiya a nakabasar iti pudno a kasasaad ken pangkasapulan ti umili ti Kordilyera, saan a maysa nga otonomiya nu sadinno ket dagiti sumagmamano a babaknang met lang ti nagdisenyo” (What the people aspire for especially the indigenuos peoples of the Cordillera is genuine autonomy based on the true situation and needs of the Cordillera Peoples, and not an autonomy that only just a few wealthy elite have designed), he pointed out.
Batawang also lambasted Aquino for making a deal with the Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army (CPLA) which he said was and is the leading persecutor of true Cordillera elders and leaders. “Idi panawen ni nanang na a Cory nu sadinno ket adu ti pinatay dagiti kameng ti CPLA karkaro dagiti miyembro dagiti organisasyon a mangilablaban iti karbengan dagiti umili ti Kordilyera, makitultulag ni Aquino kadagiti grupo a nagbalin a paramilitar ken mersenaryo nga itatta ket agi-innagaw nu sino ti lehitimo a CPLA para lang iti pondo” (During the rule of his mother Cory where members of the CPLA murdered many members of organizations who were fighting for the rights of the Cordillerans, Aquino collaborated with a group that became a paramilitary unit and mercenary that is now fighting over who is the legitimate CPLA just for (government) funds).
According to Batawang, the issue of autonomy that the government is now actively campaigning for poses a big challenge to the Cordillera elders, especially for those who were able to follow the rich struggle of the Cordillera IPs in the realization of genuine autonomy, to educate the younger generation.
He said that Cordillera elders have the great responsibility in molding the minds of the young in the defense of the ancestral land. Life and resources of the Cordillera for future generations.
“Kas kuna ni Macliing Dulag a mararaem a manakem ken pangat iti Kordilyera, saan tayo a bagi ti daga nudiket kukua daytoy ti kaputotan ket datayo laeng ti mangtartaripato” (As Macliing Dulag who was a distinguished and respected leader of the Cordillera, we do not own the land, it belongs to the future generations and we are just its/the stewards), he ended. # nordis.net