Infrastructural damage once again besets Cordillera due to earthquake Marcos’ SONA: ‘Infra is backbone of economy’
For the Cordillera people, it is both ironic and enraging that the July 27 earthquake is so much more eventful than Bongbong Marcos’ first state of the nation address. If anything, that July 25 nationwide address could indeed be enraging but only for its blatant disregard of the rights of the national minorities. The rest of it is the usual mix of hollow promises and false reassurances.
The magnitude 7 earthquake, on the other hand, is harsh Cordillera reality. Destruction and damage in the much-touted infrastructure projects abound. Almost 30 municipal roads in the region were damaged. Of the 58 reported landslides, 31 occurred in Abra. Three bridges in the province were also damaged. One would recall that idiotic moment in Marcos’ speech when he claimed that infrastructure is the backbone of an economy. If the infrastructure in the region is any indication, then the body in question would long be flat on its back, if not altogether dead.
Infrastructures in the Cordillera has a history of too often falling victim to every calamity that crosses their paths. Recent years gave witness to typhoons causing significant damage to poorly built roads, buildings, communication lines, etcetera. Last year’s Typhoon Maring closed down Kennon Road and the Vizcaya-Benguet Road. Typhoon Ulysses (2020) rendered 15 roads impassable while 16 schools suffered from infrastructure damages. On September 2018, Ompong caused 119 landslides and 33 flooding incidents causing road closures and structural damages. Two months later, Rosita descended upon Cordillera and 21 road sections closed. A DPWH building in Mountain Province was itself hit by a landslide. Such data does not even yet reflect the damage to lives and livelihood of the Cordillera people.
Thus, rather than being the backbone of the economy, infrastructure is the milking cow of corrupt politicians and their cronies. Unless this changes, they will remain weak against natural calamities.
Marcos also had the gall to proclaim that ‘we’ are custodians of natural resources with a responsibility to preserve the Earth for this ‘great treasure’ would be passed onto future generations. Had he recognized that it is the national minorities that leads the custodial role of preserving nature, his declaration would have had a ring of sincerity to it. In forgetting to do so, the statement not only sounds contrived but also exposes the lack of any NM agenda. There would be nothing to pass on if the custodians, that is the minorities and the rest of the Filipino people, are left marginalized and largely forgotten.
Thus, he merely issued pseudo-environmentalist proclamations to conceal the fact that it is the bureaucracy itself that exploits nature and profits abundantly from it. Mining, for example, is a key issue in the Cordillera region but conspicuously absent in his address. He touted renewable energy projects when these are known to displace hundreds of Cordillera families. The denial of their inalienable right to self-determination, vis-à-vis further impoverishment, displacement and even ethnocide, affronts even more after the fact that these projects serve to line the pockets of few capitalists and further aggravate the lack of sovereign development.
The people of Cordillera will not be duped. They know their history. Big business projects are profit-oriented and do not serve the tribe or the community in the long run. It has been so during the senior Marcos’ dictatorial rule and it’s still accurate during his junior’s illegitimate administration. More importantly, the people of Cordillera know their present and their future. It is to wage a national democratic revolution against capitalists and landgrabbers in the bureaucracy. It is to march with the rest of the Filipino people onwards to a socialist society. Marcos, on the other hand, knows nothing but his greed and his lies. ###
Expose the government neglect suffered by the national minorities!
Expose Marcos II’s disregard for the rights of the minorities!
Advance the democratic revolution and assert the right to self-determination!