BAGUIO CITY—Two Cordillera events staged to promote indigenous peoples’ (IP) rights turned into campaign rallies on Wednesday.
The annual Cordillera Day celebration of the Leftist groups in Baguio became a venue for local candidates they endorsed officially, including some candidates from the Liberal Party and the partylist group Katribu.
Cordillera Day has been staged every year since 1985 by the militant Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) to commemorate the region’s struggle for social and political rights, following the murder in 1980 of Kalinga village leader Macliing Dulag, who led the opposition of the Chico River hydroelectric dam project.
This year, CPA staged the event simultaneously in different Cordillera provinces, where officials endorsed all Makabayan candidates, led by senatorial candidate and outgoing Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño.
Windel Bolinget, CPA chair, said his group has been endorsing candidates who follow its stand on the “politics of change.”
He said CPA has asked candidates to heed an “indigenous peoples’ program” that advocates human rights and ancestral land rights, and which objects to “large scale corporate mining and energy projects that destroy the environment.”
Earlier, a sparsely attended assembly of Cordillera elders also became a campaign forum, this time for another party-list group representing the indigenous peoples.
Anak-IP, represented by its second nominee, Rizalino Segundo, was allowed to discuss its platform at a gathering that was intended to review the Manabo Pagta, the agreement among various Cordillera tribes fighting for Cordillera autonomy.
Samuel Dapapa, one of the original signatories of the Manabo Pagta that was adopted in December 1986, said he wanted a new consensus on the autonomy issue.
He said the agreement was ignored when President Aquino finalized the peace talks with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army in 2011. Desiree Caluza and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon