No less than the truth is expected of Pres. BS Aquino on his 5th state of the nation address. But like his previous SONAs, we expect tall tales and economic statistics that is ‘development’ for the ruling few. Across the nation on July 28, alternative SONAs are staged by the people to further expose this regime from its deception and to show the real state of the nation. On this day, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance joins the rest of the Filipino people in demanding accountability from Pres. Aquino. Four years into the US-Aquino II regime unmasked its fascist character, showing it is no different from the past regime. As part of the Filipino nation, Cordillera indigenous peoples suffer more hardships due to the national economic and political crisis, in addition to national oppression.
Worsened Economic Crisis and State Facsicm
Unemployment is highest in the Philippines and the rest of Asia under the US-Aquino II regime. According to IBON, about 4.5 million are unemployed while 7.3 million are underemployed. 48.5% of those unemployed are Filipino youth, and even government data admits that the number of impoverished Filipinos increased by 1.1 million from 2006 to 2012. Government boasts of 7.3% GDP growth, but this does not translate to improved socio economic conditions for the the ordinary Filipino. In the Philippine neocolonial setting, any ‘development’ only benefits ruling classes and big foreign capitalists that relentlessly exploit the toiling masses, including indigenous peoples and our resources. What prevails, in fact, is maldevelopment. Foreign control of domestic economy heightened with the implementation of Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP), attempts at Charter Change to eliminate the remaining protective measures for local economy and attempts to include the country in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). To make things worse, Aquino surrendered Philippine sovereignty with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreeement (EDCA), welcoming US military occupation in the country anew.
State fascism intensified with the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan. Thousands are victims of various human rights violations, such as forced evacuation (39,000), extrajudicial killings (192), torture (94), enforced disappearance (21), among many others. At least 10,000 victims of forced evacuation are indigenous peoples, and 44 of the 192 victims of extrajudicial killings are indigenous peoples, including William Bugatti and the Ligiw Family of the Cordillera. The human rights situation is aggravated by Philippine government’s (GPh) refusal to resume formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The worsening poverty and hunger are more than compelling grounds for the resumption of the Peace Talks and why it should remain on the track defined by earlier agreements and The Hague Declaration. This means that the stages defined in the track should be sincerely followed—first, the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL); second, the talks to proceed on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER); third, the Constitutional Reforms to be drafted and enacted based on agreed grounds and fourth, the talks on the Disposition of Forces. We support this track as a means to tackle the roots of the civil war in the country and not the localized peace talks being presented by the Philippine government as an option which tries to undermine the real causes of unpeace.
Further unmasking the regime’s deception is the massive and systematic corruption through the pork barrel. In the pork barrel scam, those accountable have not been fully tried, and in fact, Pres. Aquino appears the protector of those involved.
Imperialist Plunder of Indigenous Peoples’ Territories and Repression
Imperialist plunder of our lands and resources intensified under the US-Aquino II regime. The Cordillera is swamped by destructive corporate energy projects like geothermal plants, mega dams, mini-hydro and wind farms planned in different parts of the region that promise huge profits for corporations at the expense of indigenous peoples’ rights. There are currently 287 mining applications, 177 patented claims covering 60% of the region’s 1.8 million-hectare land area. On top of these are 88 hydropower projects, 8 geothermal projects and 1 wind energy project in the offing, one of which is a big geothermal application of global energy giant Chevron spanning three municipalities in Kalinga province.
The manipulation of government processes by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) caused human rights violations and divisions in indigenous communities targeted by mining and energy corporations. Community consent for destructive projects is forcibly secured by the government and private corporations, rather than freely given by the people, such as the case now in Guinaang, Pasil, Kalinga with the application of Makilala Mining. The Cordillera experience is sufficient evidence to call for the dismantling of the NCIP, as it failed miserably to uphold indigenous peoples’ rights.
The people’s opposition to imperialist plunder has become a national internal security issue under Oplan Bayanihan. Villages have become virtual encampments of the military, and their operations and bombing have caused numerous human rights violations and have terrified the civilian population. In March alone, the Ligiw family was massacred by elements of the 41st IB in Abra, while Ifugao activist William Bugati was slain by State assassins only a fews after. ike the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) killings and terrorism against the militant Cordillera mass movement during the time of Cory Aquino, there is also highlighted human rights violations with abominable killing of Cordillera activists in this presidency of Benigno Aquino.
AFP troops have militarized the delivery of development and humanitarian services as these are utilized for counter-insurgency under the pretext of “peace and development.” Government’s PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) is supposed to be the national government’s “peace and development program” in areas of armed conflict in the country, but PAMANA militarizes development and social services and is another opportunity for corruption. In the Cordillera, it exclusively favors the paramilitary Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), not to mention that in the pork barrel scam, the CPLA was one among those “beneficiaries” through the DAP.
Persist in our Challenges
The worsening problems of hunger, joblessness, injustice, violation of democratic rights, bureaucratic corruption and other excesses of the ruling elite system are day to day burning issues of Philippine society, thus, we must persist in our challenges to the Aquino II regime. More than ever, the Cordillera militant people’s movement commits to pursue the historic “ Defense of Land, Life and Resources” for present and for future generations. We cannot do less, and we continue to be inspired by the legacy of kayaw or “all out people’s struggle” defined by our martyrs during the Chico Dam opposition. We demand for the resumption of the formal peace talks between the GPh and NDFP, for serious implementation of the CARHRIHL and an end to impunity. We will continue to demand for justice for victims of rights violations, for economic relief from the ever-worsening national economic crisis, and for the respect and recognition of indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands, right to-self determination and an end to imperialist plunder.
Walang ibaang daan kundi ang paglaban! Pres. BS Aquino DAPat managot!
Itakwil ang kontra-katutubong US-Aquino Regime II!