PAN Asia Pacific and the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) are one with the Indigenous Peoples of Cordillera in their struggle for self-determination and against all forms of repression and exploitation.
Our campaigns on the ground and various exchanges with international partners have taught us that inextricable from the fight for preserving the Indigenous Peoples’ ways of life and culture is the defense of land. In the Philippines and elsewhere, indigenous groups are alienated from no less than their own lands, displaced and even intimidated, harassed, or killed.
Indeed, it was the encroachment on the Kalinga and Bontoc peoples’ ancestral lands, through the World Bank-funded Chico River Dam Project, that Macliing Dulag opposed. His death at the hands of the military has since been commemorated every 24th of April, on the Cordillera Day.
Almost four decades since his death, land remains a major issue in the region. The increasing push for neoliberal globalization has ushered in big businesses that have no problem running roughshod over indigenous communities. In the name of so-called development, corporations plunder resources and are often backed by the government, with its pro-elite legal instrumentalities.
But the staunch resistance of indigenous peoples are to be reckoned with. Recent years have seen more community-based efforts against land grabs, and such assertion of their rights are making significant breakthroughs even in the global arena.
Our voices here today could only resound the calls that the Indigenous Peoples of Cordillera have been demanding the government to heed for a long time. Policymakers must now begin to recognize the rights of one of the most vulnerable segments of the society, to protect and promote their access to and control over lands and resources, and to advance their right to genuine pro-people development. ###
Cordillera Day in Ifugao province:
Cordillera Day in Bontoc province:
(The Cordillera Day marks the death anniversary of IP leader Macliing Dulag who has become a symbol of struggle and hope for the Cordillera people. The annual celebration is spearheaded by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, the widest alliance of Cordillera peoples organizations in northern Philippines.)