By LYN V. RAMO
BAGUIO CITY — Belgians, part of the international solidarity network of the Cordillera peoples, Thursday staged a protest rally in front of the Philippine Embassy in Brussels to protest political killings.
In a solidarity statement sent the Cordillera Peoples Alliance for the 25th staging of the Cordillera Day, the New World-Sint Niklaas, Belgium said representatives of several non-government organizations (NGO’s), trade unions and the provincial government of East Flanders participated.
“During the rally, a delegation went inside the embassy to hand over the signatures of a petition campaign against the killings (in the Philippines),” the statement said.
“This week, a series of documentaries we made on the Cordillera are shown on the regional television. Coming weekend and in the next months, several educational activities on the Cordillera will be held in our town of Sint-Niklaas,” according to the Bread for he World.
Sint Niklaas is a Belgian town in the province of East Flanders in Belgium. The province has been supporting the endeavours of the Cordillera and the Filipino people. “We are taking side with you in your endeavours, not only through project support, but through education in Belgium and participation in the campaign to stop the political killings in the Philippines,” the Belgian NGO said in its solidarity message to the Cordillera Day.
The statement told the delegates to the Cordillera Day, “Throughout the many years of our cooperation with NGO’s and people’s organizations in the Cordillera, we have come to understand with you the many issues affecting the Cordillera people: large scale mining, agricultural liberalization, environmental degradation, violation of workers’ rights, lack of social services, corruption and militarization leading to systematic human rights violations.
“We also understand the root causes of these problems, as you have analysed very well: feudal systems of agriculture, an economy controlled by foreign interests, and a rich elite controlling the government.
“But, to understand is to empower! Because you know the issues and causes, you can tackle them at all levels in favor of the majority of the people. Through concrete socio-economic projects, specific power relations are challenged and changed. Through advocacy and campaigning, the root causes are publicly exposed and support to your goals is strengthened. Through organizing work, the ground is prepared for all of these and more: to advance the movement of the people for genuine change.”
New World is a partner of the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC), which is providing socio-economic and technical assistance to the indigenous peoples’ communities in the region. # nordis.net