The people continue to retell the history of how they wield their unity against national oppression and other social injustices in tribute to Cordillera martyrs and the continuing people’s struggle.
The 33rd Cordillera Day commemoration or Cordillera Day 2017 held from April 23-25, 2017 in Kalinga province was successful and meaningful, as it addressed pressing issues confronting the Cordillera people such as the need for just and lasting peace, human rights violations, imperialist plunder of ancestral lands and militarization. 3,000 delegates from the Cordillera provinces of Abra, Apayao, Kalinga, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Baguio City, other Philippine regions, including indigenous groups and advocates from Taiwan, Cambodia, Japan and the US participated.
Cordillera Day 2017 was observed in three mains events: April 23 for the unveiling of monument dedicated to heroes of the Chico struggle, April 24 for the 33rd Cordillera Day events through inputs, keynote speech from Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes Jr and cultural presentations and resolutions; and April 25 in a caravan and rally against militarization infront of the 503rd Infantry Battalion headquarters. Cordillera Day 2017 was also observed by compatriots and advocates overseas: April 15 in Montreal, Canada and April 23 in Hong Kong.
As in past Cordillera Day commemorations headed by CPA, Cordillera Day 2017 was owned and embraced by the people, shown by their full support from planning, hosting the Cordillera Day, doing the necessary preparations up to running the program itself. For instance, the construction of the monument dedicated to heroes of the Chico struggle was done with members of the Butbut tribe especially the kin of Macliing Dulag, Lumbaya Gayudan and Pedro Dungoc Sr. CPA and the kin of the Chico heroes are grateful to Architect Vladimir Longid and solar artist Jordan Mangosan for designing the monument.
Cordillera Day 2017 served anew as the organized expression of the peoples of the Cordillera of the assertion to self-determination and condemnation of the shameful historical revisionism of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army and Philippine government, which has been organizing its own version of Cordillera Day. Let us not forget that it was government’s Philippine Army troops that killed Macliing Dulag. Philippine Army troops killed Macliing Dulag for leading the opposition against destructive government projects. So how can they honor him and remember his legacy? We condemn their attempts to revise history and co-opt the people’s Cordillera Day. We condemn the OPAPP pronouncement in its press release claiming that the Cordillera Peoples Alliance was part of the OPAPP event in Bauko, Mountain Province also on April 24, in a so-called step “towards healing and reconciliation as they strongly pushed for Cordillera autonomy towards federalism”. The Cordillera Peoples is not just any “group” or any “rebel faction” as claimed in the press release! CPA will never be part of such event that revises our people’s history, promotes bogus autonomy and undermines the people’s struggle for self-determination. We also condemn the OPAPP’s claim that the unveiling of the marker for Chico heroes on April 23 was part of the OPAPP event. Such attempts to deceive the people is a dishonor to the memories and struggle of Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc Sr., Ama Lumbaya Gayudan, the other people’s martyrs and heroes and the whole Cordillera people. As published in a Sunstar online story on April 23, we want to set the record straight that it was NOT the CPLA that carried out an activity in Balbalan last April 24. It was the Cordillera Peoples Alliance during Cordillera Day 2017.
We also condemn the harassment of the 503rd Infantry Battalion and Philippine National Police during Cordillera Day 2017. During delegates’ travel to Cordillera Day 2017 up to the departure, we experienced unlawful checkpoints, illegal search, scattering or spikes along the road meant to deflate the vehicles of delegates departing from the venue, taking videos and photos of the delegates.
Among the important results include the 3,000-strong delegation’s support for the ongoing peace talks between the NDFP and Philippine government, renewed commitment in local campaigns against destructive mining and energy projects, militarization and human rights violations, including government and the CPLA’s historical revisionism and attempts to coopt Cordillera Day.
CPA is thankful to all individuals and organisations for their presence, support and solidarity during Cordillera Day 2017, including those who sent numerous messages of solidarity. We congratulate the host community of Bolo and the local hosts KALASAG and Balantoy Farmers Association with CPA Kalinga chapter. Once more, we have shown what the true Cordillera Day is—and that is, Cordillera Day is a people’ struggle. Thus its continuing relevance for the past 33 years. ***
ATB Anongos, Secretary General