January 3, 2013 in Featured
Welcome the New Year with renewed hope; warmed and stronger ties; fired-up determination to pursue a principled struggle for progressive and sustainable communities.
2013 would approximately be, by the Lunar calendar, the year of the water Snake. Soothsayers and astrology followers say it is going to be a good-for-business year which in similar words it is what they predicted for 2012 too, year of the great Water Dragon. Yet it is prudent to look back at what happened the past year to be able to know whether it was a good and successful one, so that the New Year can be planned out to be a good(er) and a more progressive year.
Looking through the year’s headlines, Northern Dispatch Weekly or Nordis 2012 has clearly taken to continue covering issues on the environment, human rights violations, peoples’ social, economic situations, and governance from the organized peoples’ point of view against the backdrop of the prevailing state administration. As part of the fourth estate, it takes this point of focus to watch out for democracy, that it is working by the peoples’ aspiration for national sovereignty, human rights – to sustenance, to sustainable environment, health, good governance and social emancipation.
In this light, as members of the Northern Luzon communities, it is clearly, no wonder that we take a stand and condemn the continuing extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearancs, and the plunder of our resources that take away peoples’ rights, land and lives. And, denounce the US-inspired and directed counterinsurgency blueprint Oplan Bayanihan.
In 2012, to welcome the year of the water dragon, NDW’s headlines blared out the city of Baguio is sued over the terrible trash slide that killed seven people in August 2011, polluted the water source and surroundings of its neighbor-towns in Benguet and the province of La Union. A disaster brought by the lack of political will in the city government to seriously take on the growing problem of garbage. The city was slapped by the Supreme Court with a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) and Writ of Kalikasan that ordered the permanent closure of the overused Irisan dump site.
Then, the issue of the uprooting and cutting of 182 pine and Alnus trees, Baguio residents protested the expansion project of SM Baguio in a bid to protect the environment and the water source atop Luneta Hill. This gave birth to the formation of an environmental movement whose passionate campaign made the news headlines as they went to the courts and national government offices, and then to the streets with the progressive and militant groups to appeal the fate of the City’s environment against over-development plans for the city.
April, in the decentralized annual commemoration of Cordillera Day 2012 led by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, an environmental forum tackled the issue of the dwindling environment and natural resources of Baguio. A peoples’ manifesto was drawn and given to the office of the City mayor where as of date the Mayor has yet to respond.
January 23, 2012, the indigenous peoples (IP) of Mankayan, Benguet set up barricades to the renewed entry and expansion of mining companies into their ancestral domain. For months, Madaymen residents stood up against the fierce attempt to demolish their barricades by the mines with elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP). They witnessed through their legal fight to keep out corporate plunder from their farms how the state can use the law against the will of the peoples’ communities in favor of the few rich large mining corporations.
In other provinces of the Cordillera Region throughout the year indigenous cultural communities (the Ips) told of how the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process simply remained in paper as the process meant to guard their rights to their ancestral lands, cultures and domains was pushed aside. And whenever they expressed their determination to protect the land for the future generations, their communities were subjected to militarization in the name of counter-insurgency – Oplan Bayanihan (OPBAY).
In the implementation of OPBAY, members of the progressive organizations, community leaders, activists and residents were subjected to harassment, enforced disappearances, massacre, displacement and extra-judicial killings among others. Women and children, married or single are filling the list of rape victims attributed to military elements.
The Cordillera people also face the revived Regional Autonomy bid with a well funded Information and Education Campaign (IEC) on its plans. Unaudited expenses drew some issues and concerns and even surfaced that the autonomy bill was not even on the priorities of President Benigno Aquino III.
From the Cordillera ranges to the shores of Cagayan and Ilocos, peoples’ organized actions surfaced to stop foreign mining companies from taking away the magnetite, gold and other minerals. Regional and provincial formations grown to a North Luzon-wide alliance establishes the peoples’ unity to save the environment from further degradation by corporate greed.
As the year comes to a close in Baguio, the urban poor and the Ibaloi communities are again confronted by the pending enactment of an ammended City Charter viewed by lawyers, organizations and individuals as unconstitutional.
2013 shall come to take on the peoples’ hopes and aspirations for true redemption, progress and prosperity, NDW, Your “Diaryo Ti Umili Ti Amianan” or Nordis shall be there with pen and tablet in hand to face the new struggles with the peoples’ communities. A prosperous New Year to all!#www.nordis.net