GREETINGS ON 35th CORDILLERA DAY
April 24, 2019
BAYAN-Canada, the national umbrella organization of patriotic and democratic Filipino organizations in Canada, sends its warmest solidarity greetings to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the people’s organizations throughout the provinces in organizing and hosting the centralized and decentralized celebrations of Cordillera People’s Day, going strong for the last 35 years. From here in Canada, we lend our staunch support for this year’s theme: “Resist Tyranny: Advance the Politics of Change and Self Determination!”
It is not lost on us that as we celebrate the 35th year of Cordillera Day, the region is facing renewed attacks in the form of numerous development aggression projects. The very river that Ama Macli-ing Dulag gave his life to protect, the Chico River, is under threat from at least 12 hydropower projects, as well as the destructive debt trap of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project. This new project would allow China to trample on the Philippines’ national patrimony and sovereignty should it default on payment of its P3.6 billion loan. We join the Cordillera people in the call for the protection of the Chico River and all waterways and lands in the region, from these predatory projects. We affirm our support for the right of Indigenous peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and shame the Duterte regime for violating Indigenous peoples’ rights to exercise sovereignty over their ancestral domains. To this we join our Cordilleran kin to demand No to large dams! Let the Cordillera rivers flow free! Junk the CRPIP loan agreement! Defend the rivers, land and resources!
On this occasion, we also declare our unwavering support for the Indigenous human rights and land defenders, many of them women, who continue to be unjustly vilified and targeted by the US-Duterte regime for their activism, including its red tagging and harassment of CPA members through flyers, letters of false accusation, and trumped up charges including Rachel Mariano, Health Program Coordinator of the Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera (CHESTCORE). To this we say Free Rachel Mariano! Activism is not terrorism! Stop criminalizing dissent!
As we commemorate Ama Macli-ing Dulag, we also recognize the Indigenous activists who continue his legacy by defending their ancestral domains and fighting for self determination. We honour and commend the role these activists play not only in the struggle for Indigenous rights in the Philippines, but in the struggle for national democracy and a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. Truly, there is much to celebrate and so much more to be done. From thousands of miles away, we hear the sounds of your gongs and feel the ground shake with the stomping of feet as all of you on Cordillera Day dance in resistance and in celebration!
We stand in solidarity and join all of you! To a strong and militant Cordillera Day! Long live international solidarity! Makibaka, huwag matakot! Kaigorotan, lumaban! ###
(Sgd.) Christopher Sorio
(Sgd.) Rhea A. Gamana