Land and life took the center stage of this year’s top news stories on Nordis. This only shows that in its coverage of events at the grassroot communities in Northern Luzon the issues of land or resources and the right to Life are central concerns to the people.
Violent dispersal by the Philippine National Police (PNP) forced around 60 youth as well as members of Tongtongan ti Umuli (TTU) away from the Mansion where a lighting rally demanding the ouster of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was held. Photo by Noel Godinez (Click here for the story)
With that as the people’s urgent concern, it is no wonder that human rights stories come in as first runner-up to the number of stories written and published this year.
On the third place are stories on poverty, issues of wages, oil price hike and rice price crisis, health and nutrition. Farming, being the main economic activity in northen Luzon was not outmatched in coverage as stories on issues of seeds, irrigation, fertilizers, market and farming systems kept at the heels of the peasant sector.
Land and life
Since mining has been identified by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the industry that will bail out the Philippine economy from sinking further, Cordillerans has once more been thrown into another cloaked war for their land and resources. For the “majority” Filipinos, Cordillerans are again asked to give-up their territories to the mining industry.
The last Nordis issue in 2007 carried a special report entitled: Gov’t indifference blocks Batung Buhay mine dev’t. The people of Balatoc, where Batung-buhay is located wanted in, in the development of the mines. They wanted full disclosure, ownership and a rightful share in the returns as the Indigenous peoples – whose ancestors were the original occupants and therefore have original claims to the fruits of its development and the continued maintenance and sustainability of the area. So do most of Cordillerans have to their ancestral domain.
As communities negotiated and asserted their rights the story of the people found print throughout 2008. The communities affected by the applications of big mining corporations include: Bakun, Benguet; Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya; Baay-Licuan, Abra; Adams, Ilocos; Conner, Apayao; Mainit, Mountain Province; and Balatoc, Kalinga. Altogether, this covers most three regions of northern Luzon. These mine areas are militarized and Tubo, Abra is still being bombed.
This is the second year since the passing of the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), it also is the 60th year of the promulgation of the UN Declaration for Human Rights (UNDHR) to which the Philipppines is a signatory.
James Balao. Photo courtesy of Cordillera Peoples Alliance
As Nordis is covering the area where indigenous peoples (IP) are majority in the population the significance of the recognition and respect for IP and human rights are a focus. Running coverages and stories on UN-defined HR violations such as the enforced disappearance, a first in the Cordillera, of James M. Balao did not only splash on Nordis pages but was picked up by the national and international wires and HR bodies. So have our trailing and consistent publishing of stories on extra-judicial killings (EJK) perpetuated here and in other IP areas in the country.
SEARCH RITUAL. Invoking ancient spirits, Igorot elders plead that missing activist James Moy Balao be kept safe and alive as they condemn his abductors. Photo by Brenda S. Dacpano (Click here for the story)
Poverty is the general situation in the country today, whether it be from government data or independent sources. Lacing the perimeters of this general situation are stories of the failing economy, of the continued degradaton of the environment, of graft and corruption, of workers wages and the landless peasantry of women and children, of the search for truth and transparency, of the clamour for credible and good governance.
Though bleak the picture may seem from these coverages; the lifestyle section proved deserving of the prominent backpage. Most sought after and reprimanded when absent, is our version of the crossword puzzle Burburtia Krokis, along with Salunat, the health section and not far behind is Getting Lost, the travelogue.
Makan has remained consistent to feed even the most sophisticated palate, tickle the imaginative cook in the commoners kitchen, and the good and discerning souls out there. A liberating and prosperous New Year to all! #