For the police force and bureaucratic units of the province of Kalinga, the marker commemorating Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan should have been but an inoffensive roadside marker. Although, for the indigenous peoples of Kalinga, Mountain Province and the rest of the Cordilleras, the simple memorial is no less than a reminder of their remarkable history and own great potential.
And yet, in another shameless display of disrespect for the plight and struggle of minorities, the local police has found an ally in the office of the Department of Public Works and Highways to push for the marker’s demolition. Using the cunning whole-of-nation approach where local government units (LGU) move cooperatively against national democratic organizations, the Upper Kalinga District Engineering Office hawks about road encroachment as a reason to have it taken down while the Police Regional Office admits to having their Provincial Advisory Council recommending so to the provincial government because the progressive legal organization Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance which installed it, ‘deceives the youth,’ as they absurdly say. The Kalinga LGU could not even come up with smarter excuses.
This is not a simple case of road encroachment, contrary to what the Kalinga police is so quick to defensively point out as if washing their hands of any trace of collusion. If so, then the LGU would’ve just proposed to have the marker transferred to a better location. But not only did the latter never think to honor the Kalinga heroes who fought for the land and territory that they still get to enjoy today, it now wants the memorial gone from the sight of national minorities whose struggle to eke out a living despite exploitative companies and colluding government has become a exhausting daily activity. Worse, for the families of Macliing Dulag and the rest of the fallen martyrs whose lives were cut short due to fascist attacks, the marker may be a poor substitute for justice but at least it celebrates and remembers the noble cause of their deaths.
The National Democratic Front – Ilocos (NDF-Ilocos) stands in solidarity with the progressive and revolutionary organizations under the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front in opposing such proposed action by the Kalinga LGU. The NDF-Ilocos believes that these are but different tunes to the same anti-Communist song. The most rabid of anti-Communism tactics is the US-Duterte regime’s brand as proven by the merciless execution of three leading cadres of the New People’s Army (NPA) in February in Ilocos Sur, by the cold murder of Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez who earlier ruled to acquit wrongly accused and incarcerated Rachel Mariano and by the long-running militarization of Ilocano communities that they deem supportive of the revolutionary army.
Afraid of a Simple Marker
Hidden between the lines of their tiresome chorus, however, is the truth that the reactionary government and its fascist troops fear armed revolutions. A simple memorial upsets state agents because it would rather that the Cordillera people forget how their brave elders fought and died for their collective right to self-determination. For the national minorities so rooted to their ancestral territories, to lose their land is equivalent to ethnocide or the murder of their own race. And an armed revolution is the only way to effectively fight for it.
Armed uprisings have long been the most justifiable resort of the masses in fighting for their rights. In the same vein that indigenous peoples need to take up arms to defend their ancestral territories, the Filipino people are pressed to wield weapons as part of the program to build a people’s government. In the countryside, where interference from the reactionary government is minimal to nil, establishing a people’s democratic government is possible and is actually taking place in many areas of the country. Peasants everywhere, including fisher folk from coastal Ilocos and indigenous tribes from Cordillera interiors, are forming themselves into committees to collectively advance their economic situation, develop a mass-oriented culture and education, improve health and medical capacities and get better at governing themselves. All this is possible because they can defend themselves, through their own militias and with the support of the NPA.
The spirit of armed struggle lives on. All the Kalinga LGU is doing by trying to take down a marker of the great elders of the Cordillera is to betray their own inadequacies, pettiness and fear of a people’s uprising. The people of Kalinga can be rest assured that the national democratic organizations of Ilocos marches in step with them in protecting the legacy of their revolutionary heroes and grabbing political power through unwavering armed revolution. ###