By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Militant groups in Metro-Baguio joined the yearly nationwide simultaneous protest as a counter activity to President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to denounce what they call “no real change and worsening situation” under his more than two years stay in the presidency.According to Andres Wailan of the Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Apit Tako), the peasants are suffering the most from landlessness and government disregard of their plight. He said that it seems to be impossible for the peasants to expect genuine land reform under Aquino because the president’s family itself does not like to distribute the lands of the Hacienda Luisita of the Cojuangcos which was already been resolved in the courts.
Wailan added that Aquino does not care at all of thinking how the landless will be provided land to till as he is busy prioritizing the dictates of the United States (US). He said that the government is hell bound to let the US and other foreign countries meddle with the country’s affairs, and open handed welcomes even their military forces to conduct war exercises in Filipino soil.
He also said that the Aquino and the US government are desperately using the issue of the Scarborough Shoal rift with China to justify the presence of the American troops and the possible return of their military bases here.
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary General Jude Baggo said that the human rights situation in the Cordillera just like in the rest of the country gets more tainted with blood as the administration reveals its true colors.
He said that the people of the Cordillera had already suffered hard from the Oplan Batay Laya 1 and 2 of the past administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and is continuously being suffered under the rule of Aquino through his Oplan Bayanihan.
Baggo criticized what he called “band aid solution” of Aquino through his government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4 Ps) which Aquino claims to help the Filipino poor by distributing Conditional Cash transfer (CCT) money. According to Baggo, the 4 Ps does not really address the roots of the problem of poverty. Instead of opening more opportunities to the Filipinos to jobs, livelihood, education and health services among others, Aquino seems to fool the Filipinos with his dole out program.
Baggo added that while the 4 Ps is being implemented, indigenous people (IP) communities of the Cordillera are continuously militarized. He said that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops continue to encamp inside the barrios and barangays occupying schools and even under the houses exposing the communities to danger and sowing fear. He added that under the disguise of peace and development where they deploy so-called AFP Peace and Development Teams (PDTs), they deceive the people and hide the military’s true intent of counter-insurgency and political repression while guarding the entry of mining corporations in IP communities.
He said there are cases in the Cordillera where soldiers teach the youth anti-social activities such as drinking and gambling. He added that there are many cases that the soldiers invite the young to a drinking spree by the river banks. He also said that there are cases where the soldiers court the young girls and even married women. He cited the latest case where an army officer, Capt. Danilo Lalin, courted and raped a 16 year-old high school student of Mankayan, Benguet.
According to Baggo, political villification haunt the leaders and members of legal progressive organizations and people who are upholding their rights over their land and life. He said that during the reign of PNoy, 95 cases of extra-judicial killings and 10 cases of enforced disappearances were recorded.
Katribu Partylist Samuel Anongos said that 2 years after the Filipino IPs presented their IP agenda to Aquino, the president has not made any commitment to the welfare of IPs. He said he enacted Executive Order 79 which only heightens mining plunder and human rights violations. He added that while Aquino keeps on saying lies of regulating the mine industry and showing concerns on the environment and communities, he approved 24% of permits for mining activities.
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Chairman Windell Bolinget said Aquino is no different from his predecessor Arroyo and other regimes before him. For 2 years, he said, Aquino instead of doing what he is mandated to do to serve his people continues to put the blame on the past administration while begging favors from his US imperialist and capitalist bosses. He said that real change, where social justice and respect for human rights not only of the IPs but of the rest of the Filipino people be achieved depends on the collective struggle of the Filipinos themselves.
The groups staged a march-rally on the main streets of Baguio and held a program in the Peoples Park. The rally ended with a militant Cordillera indigenous dance where an effigy of Aquino and US was severed with spears as a symbol of discontent of the Cordillera people. # nordis.net