Resist the crackdown on the national minority communities!

Simon ‘Ka Filiw’ Naogsan | Spokesperson | Cordillera People's Democratic Front | National Democratic Front of the Philippines
January 12, 2021
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National minorities bear the brunt of bloody repression and displacement as the fascist US-Duterte regime rudely pushes the implementation of his anti-people projects within our ancestral lands. The tyrant’s inutility and incompetence in handling the COVID 19 pandemic worsened the rotting semi-colonial and semifeudal system that he steers resulting in a terrible downturn of the economy. His band-aid remedy to supposedly fast track the economic recovery is to push ahead the ‘build, build, build’ baloney, peddle the country’s resources to foreign investors to make way for large scale mining, geothermal plants, hydropower mega dams and irrigations, sell-out of our agricultural lands for plantations of agricorporations and many more. With the end of his term drawing near, its tyranny, state fascism and greed further intensifies. Brandishing his freshly minted anti-people Anti-Terrorism Law, the crackdown on the people who refuse to be cowed and stood their ground in resistance is nakedly ruthless.

The CPDF vehemently condemns the continuing US-Duterte regime’s vicious repression and brutality against indigenous people’s communities, the most recent being the simultaneous tokhang-style massacre of 9 Tumanduk tribal leaders and members from the six barangays of Tapaz, Capiz. The blood-thirsty murderers claimed that they are NPA fighters who “resisted arrest”. They planted various guns and explosives in the houses of the victims. 17 others from the barangays of Tapaz and Calinog, Iloilo were arrested. The Tumanduks have long been opposing the Jalaur megadam projects that would inundate their lands. They likewise resist the wholesale landgrabbing of the more than 30,000 hectares of their ancestral lands claimed by the 3rd ID as military reservation. The barbaric crimes against ordinary barrio folks were perpetrated by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and 12th IB last December 30, 2020. This incident is not an isolated case as many similar cases had been inflicted against indigenous peoples in the past. Their only crime is the assertion of their right and defense of their ancestral lands and lifeways. The growing list of human rights violations is concomitant with militarization against national minorities who get in the way of the interests of foreign and local ruling class.

In the Cordillera, tribal mass leaders and members are suffering from the same state fascism and brutality. The most recent victim is Beatrice Belen from the Uma tribe in Brgy. Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga who was illegally arrested on the dawn of October 25, 2020 by a composite team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Kalinga PNP and Philippine Army. She is currently detained at Tabuk City Jail mixed with male inmates. She is facing a fabricated case of illegal possession of explosives planted by the culprits at the back of her house. Belen and her family were forcibly led outside when the military illegally searched inside their house. 12 other members of the Uma community were in the list but were out in their workplaces when the fascist swooped down unexpectedly.

Belen has been one of the staunch leaders of her community against militarization and the entry of the Kalinga Geothermal Project – a joint project of Aragorn Energy and Power Corporation in partnership with Chevron Geothermal Philippines Holdings since 2012. This project covers 26,139 hectares of ancestral lands of the tribes of Balatoc, Colayo, Dalupa-Ableg, Guinaang, Dangtalan, Uma, Bangad, Dananao, Tulgao and Tongrayan. Belen, together with elders from the tribes of Uma, Guinaang, Dananao and Balatoc, has been consistently exposing the divide-and rule tactics of the company and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples against the affected tribes since the FPIC process began in 2007. With the initial drilling completed in 2019, the company is set to put up a geothermal power plant within the tri-boundary of Pasil, Lubuagan and Tinglayan, all Kalinga tribal municipalities. For her militant advocacy and stand against destructive and extractive projects that would adversely impact on the environment, she was awarded the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan in 2018. Manang Betty, as she is also called, is also a known defender of women’s rights in the community.

Red-tagged activists and mass leaders such as Belen, Tumanduk, Lumad, Aetas, and other tribal leaders are being labeled as “members, sympathizers or supporters” of the Communist Party and New People’s Army to justify the gross trampling of their rights as citizens of this country. Duterte’s killing rampage is a copycat of the so-called “Jakarta method” of the Suharto regime that massacred three million Indonesians suspected as communists. It also appears as a resurrected US-prescribed “Oplan Phoenix” in South Vietnam from 1965 to 1972. The steadily rising death counts under the NTF-ELCAC overshadow the grisly record of his idol dictator Marcos. Despite the crime against humanity cases filed in the International Criminal Court, Duterte in all his callous arrogance is hell-bent in his murdering frenzy.

We join the grief of the families and the Tumanduk tribe as we raise our voice of fury once more. The people had enough! The CPDF calls upon all tribes and the whole country to stand up, further strengthen our unity and fight this crackdown. Let us persevere and creatively advance the national democratic struggle in all forms doable under the present circumstances: armed or unarmed as our response to the regime’s fascist onslaught. End the regime’s tyranny, carry forward the banner of people’s war until total victory!

Fight back against the US-Duterte regime’s crackdown!
Persevere in marching the national democratic revolution forward!
Defend our ancestral lands and resources!

Resist the crackdown on the national minority communities!