Poverty of indigenous peoples worsens under Aquino, says revolutionary group

By ALDWIN QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) said that President Benigno Aquino III “matuwid na daan” (righteous path) has led to the all-out plunder of the country’s resources that worsens the already sorry state of indigenous peoples.

CPDF, through its spokesman Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, pointed out that the absence of “wangwang” (sirens) is the diversion of the government of the awareness of the people from the gigantic gains of big mining companies and energy corporations. He added that the poor situation of the national minorities worsens in the name of progress.

According to the CPDF statement, the US-Aquino regime heightened the extraction of natural resources from the mountains and shores of Northern Luzon. The group added that the national minorities are suffering more from the strengthening national oppression and the two years of the Aquino regime brought no real changes in the lives of poor peasants of the Ilocos Region and the indigenous peoples of Cordillera.

The CPDF further said that the Cordillera region is still identified as a resource base and source of huge profits in the name of progress and development detrimental to the ancestral lands and heritage. It added that big mining corporations use different names and aliases to hide their interests.

The said mining corporations include Lepanto-Goldfieelds/Olpaten/Eltopan/Diamond Drilling/Lindsay/Mount Franz/Patrick; subsidiaries of a Canadian Mining Company which are the Solfotara/Canex/Adanacex/Columbus/ Magellan//DaGamma; Cordillera Exploration/Nickel Asia-Sumitomo; Philex/Golden Lake; andi Freeport-MMcMoran (former Phelpps Dodge).

The group also said that there are six approved geothermal plants from the planned 11 that can produce more than 280 megawatts of electricity in the Cordillera. The biggest of these companies is American company Chevron. There are also 35 hydro power dams that are approved in the Cordillera that can produce a total of 326.8 megawatts.The CPDF said the electricity produced by these power firms will not be distributed to the poor Cordillera communities but will be consumed by the cities in other parts of Luzon within the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) plan.

Naogsan also noted that magnetite mining projects sprouted like mushrooms on the seashores of Pangasinan and La Union to Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and Cagayan. The CPDF spokesman continued that meanwhile, tobacco monopoly by Philip Morris-Fortune inflicts more hardships to the peasants.

“Feudal and semi-feudal exploitations against the Ilocos peasants continue,” Naogsan said.

In the vegetable belt of the Cordillera, the CPDF said, the prices of vegetable produce of the farmers remain to be nailed to the lowest in the market and trading post of the municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet every harvest season.

Naogsan said the Cordillera peoples are also suffering from intense militarization due to the implementation of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. He added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) heightened their operations in the communities to secure the entrance of foreign companies and their cohorts in plundering the country’s wealth. He stated that AFP uses divide and rule tactics by recruiting the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera to become members of para-military forces. This, Naogsan said, causes conflicts that lead to tribal wars.

The CPDF also noted the recruitment of minors where the main targets are high school girls. The soldiers, according to CPDF, court the girls to be their apprentice informers in exchange of cellphone loads. Naogsan said that the soldiers court even the minor girls and in many cases lead to rape.

The CDPF hit the new Executive Order 79 on mining, asserting that it will only worsen the sell-out of the country’s patrimony to foreign and local companies who are bent in getting the natural resources, the destruction of the environment and will expose the lives and future of the people to greater dangers. CPDF stated that while EO 79 is being claimed to clear the list of mining applications smoother entrance of large mining corporations and businesses called by the Aquino administration, 300 mining agreements and contracts covering more than 600,000 hectares of the Cordillera still remain.

According to Naogsan, the EO will also ban small-scale mines (SSM) unless they are listed under the “Minahang Bayan” (People’s Mines) law. He said that the law is disadvantageous to the indigenous peoples for many reasons.

The CPDF spokesman also criticized the 3rd Regional Autonomy (RA) attempt of the government. He reiterated that the purpose of the new RA bid is to strengthen the rule of few politicians in the region. He added that the RA will not really address the problem of national oppression against the Cordillerans instead will pave the way for the all out plunder of the wealth of the region and the exploitation of ancestral lands.

The CPDF then call for the end of the national oppression against the national minorities and the rest of the people as it also called for the people to unite for the defense of their ancestral lands, lives and resources. (nordis.net/Posted by Bulatlat)

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