Intensify the struggle against the US-Duterte regime in its remaining days in power! Advance the nationa-democratic revolution!

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In this occasion of the 37th Cordillera Day, April 24, 2021, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) celebrates the struggle for the recognition of our right to self-determination together with the entire Cordillera people and with all local and international advocates. The CPDF commends our people in the different parts of the region who, despite the fascist repression, economic hardship and the Covid-19 pandemic, make every effort practicable in creatively celebrating this occasion in various forms. Today, we raise higher our unity by affirming our commitment, expanding and further strengthening our ranks in advancing our struggle for self-determination and democracy. We give the highest honor to our heroes and martyrs who continue to serve as our inspiration in relentlessly pursuing the national-democratic revolution and the socialist revolution that will follow.

Let us celebrate with pride the invaluable triumphs we fought hard in the past year under the most difficult circumstances.

Our struggles to defend our ancestral land is continually gathering strength and expanding. Foremost among these is the progressing campaign of the Isnags of Kabugao, Calanasan and Pudtol, Apayao against the construction of Gened Hydropower Dams of the Pan Pacific Renewable Power Corporation that would inundate their communities. In fearless resistance to the Duterte regime’s sell-out of the province to foreign capitalists, the Apayao people are more than ready to advance their fight. In Kalinga, opposition to the geothermal project by the people of Pasil, Lubuagan and Tinglayan continues despite the fast-tracked exploration and construction by Chevron in partnership with Aragorn Power and Energy Corporation-Guidance Management Corporation (APEC-GMC) and abetted by the Duterte government. Likewise, for more than a decade, the people of Upper Tabuk are tirelessly resisting the implementation of the Upper Tabuk Hydro Project (UTHP). In different provinces of the Cordillera, the people adopted various approaches in resisting the land-grabbing schemes of the DENR’s National Greening Program (NGP) in the guise of reforestation. Driven to expand their food production amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, peasants openly defied restrictions imposed by the DENR that deny them the right to till their own land.

With the official lifting of the moratorium on mining by the Duterte regime, we should be prepared to heighten our opposition against the more aggressive plunder of our ancestral lands by mining companies in the Cordillera. Through this executive order, the reefs and ridges of Northern Luzon and the whole country are being wholly opened up and sold to foreign and local mining companies.

Our irrepressible united will in holding high the honor of Ama Lumbaya, Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc Sr. and many more heroes of the Cordillera struggle was demonstrated in April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan, when the people reerected the Cordillera Heroes’ Marker previously demolished by PNP troops on PRO-COR Regional Director Brig. Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan’s order last January. As stewards of the marker, we laud the Butbut tribe’s fearless determination in fighting back the PNP’s gross disrespect of the ongoing negotiations for peaceful settlement of the tribal conflict between the tribes of Butbut and Betwagan, and violations of their rights. While LGUs all over the Cordillera are being coerced by the DILG and the AFP-PNP to declare the CPP-NPA and legal-democratic organizations as ‘persona-non-grata’ in their respective jurisdictions, the Butbut tribe on their own defiant stance, declared Brig. Gen, Pagkalinawan, Kalinga Police Provincial Office (KPPO) Director Col. Davy Limmong, PLt. Col Armando Lorette Jr. of the KPPO, and PMaj. Daniel Fakat of the Kalinga Provincial Mobile Force Company as ‘persona non grata’ last February 24. Certainly, the ruthlessness of the fascist US-Duterte regime failed to cow the Butbut tribe as well as the rest of the tribes and communities in the Cordillera.

Against fascist repression and persecution of mass leaders, activists and journalists, our people scored victories in legal battles. The dropping of murder charge against Sagada elder John ‘Tanglaw’ Lipato last November 2020 proved that filing of trumped-up cases against activists are moves to criminalize and silence the legal-democratic mass movement. In October 2020, police and military elements composed of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Philippine Army and PNP swooped down on the three barangays of the Uma tribe in SEMPO-style to arrest mass leaders and members of people’s organizations at the forefront of the struggle against the Kalinga Geothermal Project. The arrest and subsequent detention of Innabuyog leader Beatrice Belen on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives was eventually dismissed because the case and the planted evidence against her did not stand in court, which resulted in her release from detention last February 12. Also, Cordillera leader Windel Bolinget, by asserting his rights, boldly faced in court the trumped-up murder charge against him and gained a court decision suspending his warrant of arrest and ordering the reinvestigation of his case. Related to this, Brig. Gen. Pagkalinawan was forced to lift the shoot-to-kill order he issued Windel. Local, national and international support outpoured for Windel’s legal fight. Also notable is the triumph of the youth movement in securing a court order against the Red-tagging perpetrated by the office of the PRO-COR regional director and all its subordinate units, as a result of their petition for the writ of amparo. Journalists who were charged with libel cases fought and won the dismissal of their cases. Together with other members of the media, they called for the release of the list of Tokhang 300 targets and the stop to Red-tagging. The dismissal of these trumped-up charges clearly proved that these have no legal basis and only serve to terrorize and suppress mass leaders and the people who dare to stand up and fight for their rights.

Multi-sectoral struggles of various sectors are also progressing. In the cities and town centers, mass struggles against privatization continues to grow. Vendors, urban poor organizations, farmers, small businessmen stood as one to oppose the privatization of public markets in the cities of Tabuk and Baguio, giving preferential treatment to giant mall owners such as Robinsons and SM Prime Holdings. This will result in the disenfranchisement of small vendors and local small businessmen. The fight against discrimination has also gained ground. From across the Cordillera social spectrum, we have raised our voice in collective fury and condemnation of the discriminatory contents of some student learning modules which erroneously depicted Igorots and demanded immediate correction.

The railroaded construction of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project is a concrete manifestation of the Duterte regime’s treason and peddling of national patrimony in exchange for onerous and graft-ridden loans. The said project, implemented through the loan agreement between China and the Philippines, has been clearly pushed as part of China’s effort to resolve its crisis of overproduction of construction materials and to give employment to its workers. The disadvantageous effects have far outweighed the deceptive promises of development. Cordilleran workers are discriminated and exploited, who receive a very low wage of P300/day, as compared to their Chinese counterparts who receive P3,000 per day.

In the guerrilla fronts in the Cordillera, production and health campaigns are making headway. Systems of cooperation such as the alluyon or labor exchange are strengthening the campaign for increasing food production primarily through the repair and expansion of rice paddies and irrigations. For health campaigns, information dissemination on the Covid-19 pandemic, mass clinics and trainings, sanitation, nutrition, utilization and propagation of herbal medicine and acupuncture were undertaken. Even during the height of the lockdowns last year, the people took the initiative in manning the barrio checkpoints and prohibiting military operations.

In the fight for the recognition of the right to self-determination and democracy, the New People’s Army (NPA) and the CPDF have persevered and advanced the armed struggle together with the people. The NPA has continuously proven through the years that it is the only true army of the people. In the past year, the NPA has launched tactical offensives targeting reactionary military and paramilitary units who have notoriously committed abuses and human rights violations against the communities, such as the victorious ambush against the 24th IB and 72nd DRC in Malibcong, Abra last January 4, and the ambush of the 73rd DRC in the AMPIS complex last January 21. Despite the regime’s vicious counter-revolutionary campaigns of trying to quell the revolutionary movement, such as the NTF-ELCAC’s parade of fake surrenderees, focused military operations, persona non-grata declarations, Red-tagging, killing of hors de combat, assassinations, violations of the International Humanitarian Law, bombings and use of drones and other modern weapons, the armed struggle persists. We should be prepared for more brutal repression from the regime, and shoulder greater responsibilities and sacrifices.

“Daga tayo daytoy, saan tayo a panawan, saan tayo a mabuteng a mangsalaknib ken matay para iti daytoy.” (This is our land, let us not leave it, let us not be afraid to defend and die for it.) These are the renowned words of the martyred Kalinga leader Macliing Dulag. The recent experiences taught us important lessons and achieved modest gains to boost our arsenal of tactics in advancing our struggles. As our experiences have shown, despite the hardships brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, economic crisis and the Duterte regime’s repression, we were able to wage the struggle creatively. We need to tighten our grasp of the armed struggle and strengthen our ranks in fighting a fascist and puppet Duterte regime and repressive regimes to follow. The terrorism and suffering imposed by the US-Duterte regime drives more people to join the armed revolution. We call upon all brave and daring sons and daughters of the Cordillera to join the true soldiers of the people, the New People’s Army and advance the fight for the defense of our ancestral lands and resources, until genuine freedom, democracy and socialism is achieved. Together, let us advance our struggle creatively in all forms and move onward to victory.

Fight the tyranny and fascism of the Duterte regime!
Advance the national-democratic revolution until victory!

Intensify the struggle against the US-Duterte regime in its remaining days in power! Advance the nationa-democratic revolution!