By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “Let us not distort history. Let us set the record straight and give credit to where it is due.”
Beverly Longid, Katribu Indigenous Peoples Partylist president, stressed as she pointed out that with the on going campaign for yet another attempt for the passage of a Cordillera autonomy law, history must be told correctly for the Cordillera people, especially for the younger generation to understand the issues that are being raised.
Longid reiterated that long before the signing of Executive Order (EO) 220 that created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) was signed, many brave men and women of the Cordillera had shed sweat, tears and blood for the recognition of their rights as a people and over their ancestral lands.
“If there should be anyone to be commended, it is the brave men and women of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra and other nearby communities who fought against destructive government projects such as the Chico River Dam and Cellophil logging and who together with their advocates lobbied for the creation of an autonomous region in the Cordillera,” she stressed.
She added that the Mt. Data peace accord between the Cory Aquino’s administration and the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) that is said to be the basis of EO 220 has long been proven to be a sham.
“Let us not forget that the campaign for regionalization was waged by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and its advocates since 1985 and the CPLA only came into the picture sometime in 1986. Let us also remember that the CPLA is responsible for many human rights violations in the region including the murder of CPA members and leaders which they had already publicly admitted,” she pointed out.
The Katribu president said at that time the Cory Aquino administration coddled the CPLA instead of punishing them for their crimes. “History shows us that the Cory government embraced the CPLA, condoned their crimes and turned its back on the people’s mass movement and CPA. Worse, the Cory government unleashed Oplan Lambat Bitag (a total war policy) that victimized grassroots organizations and activists,” she added.
CPA Secretary General Abigail Anongos highlighted that the Regionalization of the Cordillera is an achievement of the people’s mass movement in the Cordillera. She stressed that it is the wide support from the grassroots and middle forces to CPA’s Regionalization and Beyond campaign waged since 1985 and the strong lobby work of CPA activists and advocates that resulted to the provision of Regional autonomy in the 1987 Constitution.
Anongos reiterated that Regional autonomy is the practice of self determination and must emanate from the grassroots. She added that the CPA continues to educate the grassroots on Cordillera history, indigenous peoples rights and the right to self determination for the pursuit of genuine autonomy. She maintains that genuine regional autonomy is still an aspiration given the present constraints in the present set up.
She explained that genuine autonomy will be achieved through sufficient information and education, resolve and unity of all Cordillera provinces to function as one autonomous region as the operation of self determination for the Cordillera people. # nordis.net