Elders remember Ama Daniel Ngayaan

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO with reports from JUDE BAGGO

BAGUIO CITY — In a simple occasion, his family joined by at least 100 elders and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) paid tribute to Ama Daniel Ngayaan and other martyrs in the Cordillera on October 5, 2015 in Baguio City to honor the valuable contributions in defending land, life and resources.

The tribute was also a pledge of commitment for the continuing challenge to strengthen the role of elders in building consensus and unities within and among tribes to continue the legacy of defending and nurturing the land.

Daniel Ngayaan was abducted and killed in Cagaluan gate, Pasil, Kalinga province, by the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) on October 5, 1987 after he attended the Regional Council meeting of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in Baguio City. At that time, he was also the chairperson of the Cordillera Bodong Association. 28 years after his abduction his remains were never found. His family, clan, friends, and kailyan have yet to say that justice has been served.

From 1955-1960, his leadership earned his appointment as Barangay Captain of Tanglag.

In 1974, he was one of the elders who stood up, actively led and participated in the opposition against the World Bank-funded Chico River Dams project under the Marcos dictatorship.

Ama Daniel significantly contributed in uniting the elders of his community, being an influential peace pact holder himself for the Tanglag tribe. Through his participation in bodong conferences in Buscalan, Tanglag, and as far as Metro Manila, community opposition was strengthened and consolidated.

From these bodong conferences, elders forged a pagta expressing opposition to the dam project in 1975, in the spirit of the defense of ancestral heritage. His leadership figured as well in spontaneous actions against the dam such as the dismantling of the National Power Corporation camp in Mosimos, Tomiangan, Tabuk, Kalinga.

Affected communities including a huge number of women marched down from Tomiangan to Camp Duyan in Bulanao, Tabuk to return the dismantled camp in parcels in 1976.

Threatened by the growing opposition, the Marcos government later sent PANAMIN (Presidential Assistant on National Minorities) representative Manda Elizalde to the province.

PANAMIN was used to promote divisiveness and facilitate government rule against the tribal peoples to make way for dam project’s entry. Scholarships were offered to families, including cash and canned goods. Ama Daniel was among the first to expose the real motives of this agency.

Like thousands of mass leaders and members of the progressive organizations illegally detained during the Martial Law, Ama Daniel, and 150 leaders, elders, opposed to the Chico dam were arrested in 1976. They were detained in Camp Olivas in Pampanga, charged of hampering a government project. They were released the following year with the help of different support groups from the church, the Free Legal Assistance (FLAG) and Amnesty International.

Ngayaan’s arrest and detention, did not, however, water down his determination and his people’s fight against the dam construction, as he continued to prominently figure in the struggle against the dam. Being a peace pact holder, he was among those who actively participated in the formation of the Kalinga Bontoc Peace Pact Holders Association (KBPPHA) in 1982, where he was chosen as an officer.

In 1983, the growing and widening Cordillera people’s movement gave rise to the birth of the Cordillera Bodong Association, which he later chaired. During the second congress of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Ama Daniel was also elected vice chairperson.

Justice for Ama Daniel

Justice for Ama Daniel remains elusive. It remains so though it has been officially known that the CPLA is accountable for his death, and that of Romy Gardo of CPA-Abra was also killed by the CPLA after Ngayaan.

Despite its criminal activities and the complaints lodged against it, the CPLA remains scot free. The latest is the CPLA’s integration into the Armed Forces, indicating it is in fact coddled by the government despite its criminal records under the Arroyo government.

For this, the state remains culpable of denying justice to Ngayaan, his clan, tribe and the Cordillera people’s movement.

Thus, CPA has continued to remember Ama Daniel, “we shall not let out guard down and continue to expose the CPLA for its criminal acts and human rights violations. We shall continue our calls for the immediate abolition of this paramilitary group and make it answer for its crimes against the Cordillera people,” stated Windel Bolinget, CPA chairperson.

“More than two decades after his abduction, we come to remember the life of our martyr Ama Daniel Ngayaan-his great contributions in the defense of our ancestral lands, his thoughts and deeds as a progressive tribal leader. We also remember the brave people of Kalinga and Bontoc who stood up against the dam.” Bolinget said. # nordis.net