Before we welcome the new year Nordis takes one more look at the top news makers of 2007.
2007 TOP PHOTO. Sleek and Refined. Maybe they were, several decades ago. Two women sit side by side as they wait for a peso or two from bypassers along Session Road. They are only a few of the hundred beggars roaming the central business district of Baguio from dusk till dawn. Photo by Sandra Ferwelo/NORDIS
Political killings, HRVs
Just like in the 2006, stories about various rights violations and political killings topped our list with, 95 articles. Most of these stories are about military atrocities in the countryside and the clamor for justice of the victims and their families. Cases of arbitrary arrests, torture, illegal detention, harassments, abduction and killings continued unabated in the regions we are serving, thus, these made to the top stories in the pages of the Northern Dispatch Weekly last year.
Nordis also carried stories on international probes on political killings that include the investigation of the Honorable Rodolfo Stavenhagen, United Nations special rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples and then years later the Prof. Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on Extra Judicial Killings, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
Stavenhagen noted that serious human rights violations regarding the implications for indigenous communities of economic activities such as logging, mining, the building of dams, commercial plantations and other development projects. He also noted particular impacts of militarization to women and children, and thus called for the pullout of military units, paramilitary units, and the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Geographic Unit) in indigenous communities.
Alston said the reported number of extra judicial killings in the country is distressing. He also urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) to convince the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to acknowledge and sincerely investigate the cases. He added that the AFP “remains in almost total denial” of the need to respond to the significant number of killings attributed to them.
Mining continues to threaten lives, land and resources of the Cordillera peoples and the neighboring Ilocos and Cagayan regions. Most of the stories we carried featured the unwavering struggle of the Cordillera peoples against large-scale destructive mining
Large scale corporate mining has ravaged the Cordillera region with 81 years of LCMCo’s operations, 49 years of operation of Philex Mines and more than a hundred years of Benguet Corporation’s mining operations. New companies have started staking lands in old and new mineralized sites in Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao and Mountain Province. More applications are being processed by the government.
Government data shows that current mining operations and various pending applications (125 pending applications as of 2007) total 66% or 1.2 million hectares of the region’s total land area of 1.8 million hectares. Nine Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) and four Exploration Permits (EPs) were approved as of 2007.
The mining revitalization program of the Arroyo administration identified 23 priority mining projects nationwide, five of which are located in the Cordillera region.
The Cordillera is also an agricultural region, like the rest of the regions in the country. The Philippine membership to the World Trade Organization (WTO), however, continues to endanger the region’s agriculture industry.
Nordis reported on the struggle of Cordilleran farmers, mostly of Benguet and Kalinga against WTO Agreement on Agriculture. Their call is to get WTO out of agriculture.
Vegetable farmers of Benguet sought the help of the provincial government to aid them in their fight for a better floor price, more market outlets, better farm to market roads and to end smuggling and importation. Kalinga rice farmers continue to lobby for higher palay floor price, government subsidy, more market outlets, better irrigation system and a stop on rice importation.
Cordillera farmers also join the fight against mining as rice lands and vegetable farms are also affected by the ill-effects of large-scale mining. They iterate that water sources for irrigation and soil acidity are adversely affected by mining. #