December 26, 2012 in Featured
Some people were requested to contribute what they thought are issues and concerns of the Cordillera region for the Aquino administration to act on. It would be like a wish list to the President. Looking through the issues that have hit the pages of your newspaper, the following are a must to the list:
In Baguio City, it has been raised over three decades now by both the private and government sector that the City is already over-developed and over its carrying capacity. Urgent appeals for control and for a practical central plan be made and carried out were written and reported over media especially right after the devastating 1990 earthquake. The last of this kind of popular appeal has now come with street protests against the removal of 182 trees in favor of the expansion plans of a large mall in the city.
Considering the speeded up deterioration of the natural environment aggravated by the lack of a central plan and the continuing over-development in Baguio; and the added global effects of climate change; it would be in the best interest of the people and the President Benigno Aquino III’s administration to put a hold on the expansion of this mall. And, instead to plant more trees in the area where the threatened182 trees stand and care for it into a green spot in the already smog choked Baguio City.
Also, there are the equally urgent development needs for a planned and managed garbage disposal system, and the expansion of sewage treatment facilities for the city.
It is of great concern especially among Baguio’s indigenous cultural communities (ICC) that the bill amending the City’s charter has passed the House and now awaits the President’s signature without the benefit of consultation with the people especially the ICCs or it undergoing a free prior informed consent procedure among the affected populations of the City or its neighboring towns. This proposed amended charter is seen as unconstitutional and discriminatory against the ICCs and the urban poor communities of the City and these people shall not take it sitting down.
In the Cordillera region, there is not one province that is not part and parcel of the remaining biodiversity of the northern Luzon environment, or of the primary watershed of Luzon, yet all these provinces are prime targets for the extractive large scale multi-national corporate mining policy, and aggressive development plans for energy, power sources, and corporate farms under this administration.
It is then a prime concern of both the indigenous and non-indigenous populations of the region that their ancestral domain, natural resources, homes and natural habitat will be destroyed and finally decimate their sources of sustenance, their cultural integrity and communities. So they call a ban to large scale corporate mining or any aggressive corporate development in the region.
Instead of ridicule and belittling these peoples’ concerns, no matter how macro or micro, it still may be more prudent to listen to these people more and put a hold to what is popularly perceived as mass destruction of ancestral domains, and instead actively negotiate and plan for a mutually beneficial economic direction? After all, for already a century this region has simply been a resource base and not a target for a genuine peoples’ community development.
As much as barangay to town level communities of the Cordillera have incessantly raised human rights violations against them that has ranged from harassment, surveillance, illegal arrests, rape, occupation of civilian abodes, public facilities, and even murder perpetrated by members of the state security forces makes it (HRVs) an urgent issue in the region. The present situation is reminiscent of several incidents in recent history that reveal that peace in the Cordillera has never been more threatened than by state security forces, combat ready and in their numbers following right behind applications for large scale corporate development in indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains.
It is a legitimate fear because it is reminiscent of the widely protested Cellophil and the World bank funded Chico River Dam projects when villages and towns had to fight to protect their farms, burial grounds and community forests that sparked widespread armed conflict. Is this really what the present administration wants for the Cordillera?
Other issues: On the “Cybercrime law”, It has to be recalled or rescinded for being against the internationally respected Bill of Rights, specifically on the right to be informed and the freedom of expression. And,
It also is of great concern and for which we appeal to the President, for the family of James Balao, an Ibaloi human rights defender and a victim of enforced disappearance. His family, friends and colleagues continue to exhaust all efforts to find him. They call for justice and an end to enforced disappearances and impunity.
Merry Christmas and a Progressive New Year to all!#www.nordis.net