August 14, 2005
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CPDF on the Cordillera situation
By Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan
In the recent months, the US- backed Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) was successively rocked with cases of jueteng payola scandal involving, among others, members of the Arroyo family. Then came the “Hello Garci” wiretapping scandal wherein GMA was caught talking with Comelec Commisioner Virgilio Garciliano manipulating election results (people’s will), showing Arroyo’s political machinations and deceit that ultimately out slugged her closest rival and emerged as the President in the 2004 elections. As a result, a groundswell of betrayed people clamoring for truth and justice marched the streets of Metro Manila and other major cities in the country to condemn GMA’s multiple acts of plunder and other high crimes and demand no less her resignation or ouster.
Cabinet members and other officials within the Arroyo regime, scandalized with GMA’s gross dishonesty and corruption left their posts, withdrew their support for the president and joined the growing waves of protests throughout the land. The Charter Change diversionary tactic of former General Fidel Ramos and the “see no evil” tone of the pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ gave a breathing space for the illegal president.
However, as the days wear on, new and more damning evidences are coming out showing GMA’s willful acts of corruption and fraud in the 2004 elections right in her La Vista home. No amount of support from the Big Business, the Church, the fascist military, and the US can save GMA from the surging people power. The more she holds onto power, the longer the political crisis becomes. This will set successive economic downturn and bring the semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine society in deeper morass/chronic crisis.
The intransigence of GMA further inflamed the masses especially the workers and peasants who have been impoverished further by numerous anti-people programs and policies of the Arroyo regime. On the one hand, the ordinary demands of the oppressed masses — like decent wages for the workers, a small parcel of land to till for the peasants, increase in salaries for the lowly employees, to eat three square meals a day for the urban poor, decent housing for the squatters, lower tuition fee if not free education for the youth sector thirsting for knowledge, lower prices of oil and prime commodities; and respect for the people’s right to free speech and assembly, be free from police brutalities and military atrocities – are not heeded, sneered at, or thrown into the dustbin in Malacañang. These are apart from the Filipino people’s demand for genuine national freedom and democracy. GMA betrayed the people’s expectations for urgent socio-economic reforms as she promised time and again. No amount of lies and distortions can cover up the worsening economic plight and political oppression of the Filipino masses under the USGMA regime: there is no let up in the continuous oil price hike, prices of basic commodities shoot up tremendously, heavy taxes are imposed at whatever whim or reason, endemic graft and corruption, denial of basic social services compared to the increasing allocations for the military and debt servicing, massive and systematic killings of political activists and working journalists and intensifying militarization in the countryside.
Heightening national oppression
National oppression in the Cordillera region heightened under the GMA regime. In gross violation of the ancestral land rights of the Cordillera people, GMA bargained their lands and resources to big foreign mining companies and representatives of the comprador big bourgeois class for wanton plunder. She facilitated the entry of the mines and processed their applications through her Mining Action Plan. Almost 80% of Cordillera land is now covered by mining applications. Upon the declaration of the Mining Act of 1995 constitutional by the Supreme Court, GMA aggressively enticed mining applications at the International Mining Investment Conference in February 2005 and parceled out mineral areas to foreign mining companies and spawned disrespect to the people’s lands, customs and traditions.
GMA declared the Cordillera as one of the three regions in the country for commercial logging. She allowed logging companies to use destructive hydropower projects creating major landslides and cave-ins. She advocated the grabbing of indigenous water sources by foreign mining firms and other entities for bulk water projects and denied many communities in the Cordillera their watershed, clean water for human consumption and water for production. Indigenous peoples’ effort at small-scale mining in their own ancestral and tribal lands are declared illegal and gobbled up by big foreign mining claims. In addition to the numerous codified forms of national oppression passed and practiced by previous oppressive regimes, such as PD 705, the IPRA of 1997, etc., GMA introduced the merger of NCIP and other agencies into the Department of Land Reform on Oct 2004 (with the added pretext of cost-cutting) through the implementation of EO 364 for the easy control of ancestral land claims, expansion of the use of “protected areas” for mining, waste disposal, and eco-tourism. These deprived the people their land, life, resources, and identity as a people. The reactionary government’s own Environmental Compliance Certificate and Free and Prior Informed Consent of the communities only made a mockery of the people’s will against extractive and destructive mining.
Destroying indigenous socio-political systems
The GMA regime encouraged the breakout of multifaceted tribal conflicts and enmities, boundary disputes at different territorial levels resulting in many deaths and dislocations in the economic activities of the indigenous communities. These are because of the continued implementation of the CALC-CADC/CALT-CADT provisions of the IPRA, the IRA provisions of the Local Government Code, and the recruitment and arming of bandit groups like the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), and propping up counter-insurgency vigilantes and extortion groups like the Kalinga Bodong Council (KBC) which victimizes the local population. The imposition of reactionary political structures and agencies destroyed and violated the indigenous socio-political systems and marginalized the indigenous tribal and community elders.
The Cordillera region continues to receive the lowest budget allotment from government to this day. Social services is continuously denied by the reactionary government. This is a gross violation of the principle of parens patriate where the state is supposed to provide special treatment and greater support for national minorities as a disadvantaged sector.
Under this regime, the people of Cordillera received the shocking blow when Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s Vice-President and Resident Manager Augusto Villaluna derisively mocked several times the Lepanto mineworkers “ang mga Igorot ay mga unggoy; ang mga Igorot ay patay-gutom” in his desperation to thwart their strike. Rather than making steps to rectify in an avowed appeal for national unity, the GMA regime deployed massive AFP and PNP troops to disperse, harass and maim the workers. The discrimination that the people of Cordillera suffer has been further institutionalized by the regime. It has promoted the commercialization, vulgarization, and bastardization of the Cordillera indigenous culture through “cultural festivals,” “showcases,” to promote eco-tourism, and degrade the indigenious peoples.
National oppression in the Cordillera has reached ethnocide proportions, especially because of development aggression and militarization, which alienates the people from the land, which is their life, threatening their very existence and identity as a people.
The regime tries to cajole a few elitist elements among the national minorities of the Cordillera in order to drum up her reactionary, anti-people and anti-national program in the region. But her regime cannot fool the people in the region. The Arroyo regime is fast moving to its end.
Broad anti-GMA alliance
The people of the Cordillera shall add its thousand voices and link arms with the hundreds of thousands of workers, peasants, students, government employees, church peoples, including personages of different opposition forces who are now mobilized to build the widest possible united front to bring about the ouster of GMA.
The Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) enjoins all the people of the Cordillera to unite with the rest of the Filipino people and wage a resolute fight, engage in armed and unarmed, legal and illegal, open and secret forms of struggle to bring about the end of a despicable GMA regime.
The people of the Cordillera’s basic rights (including suffrage) have been trampled upon and disgraced. Their aspirations for progress have been snuffed by profit-hungry imperialists, big land grabbers, and big merchant profiteers, and by corruption and plunder in the highest halls of government. Their very existence as a people and as human beings is consigned to oblivion by a fascist regime nurtured by US imperialism.
Alternative transitory gov’t
We must support the interim period the popular call to form a transition revolutionary government from among the capable and honest leaders of the broad anti-GMA forces. These should come from the ranks of the workers and peasants, democratic middle class, members of the opposition parties, pro-people and patriotic retired generals, and other personages of good track record in place of the Arroyo regime.
In the countryside, the revolutionary forces under the CPDF shall strive to build organs of political power in the localities of the Cordillera, wage tactical offensives against the fascist forces of the reactionary state and carry on the struggle for national freedom and democracy to the very end. The transition council is to effect a national election within a reasonable period, bring about a new government with genuine mandate from the people and draft a new democratic and nationalist constitution. This council must adhere to the fundamental principle that sovereignty resides in the people, promote civilian supremacy and political democracy, unite and work on a program of genuine industrialization and land reform, and end imperialist domination. We deem it necessary that this transition council respect the national minority’s right to national self-determination.
The century old longing of the broad masses of the Filipino people for honest-to-goodness governance must start to be realized now.
It is urgent that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo be overthrown from the presidency in order to relieve the Filipino people from a burden that incurs great economic sufferings on the masses and divides the nation. Enough is enough! #
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