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Cordillerans hit dev’t projects as anti-people

15 October 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Existing or proposed large-scale mining and exploration, dams and geothermal projects in the Philippines are nothing but “development aggression projects” that rob indigenous peoples of their heritage instead of benefiting them, a Filipino migrant leader said.

These projects, normally financed by the International Monetary Fund-World Bank, are behind the worsening plight of the country’s indigenous people, Vicky Casia-Cabantac, chairwoman of Migrante Sectoral Party Hong Kong, said in a speech in Central on Oct 7.

Vicky Casia-Cabantac
She was the guest speaker at the “Dap-ayan ti Umili” poetry writing competition for domestic worker poets from the various Cordillera provinces that was organized by the Pinatud a Saleng ti Umili, or PSU-HK.

“We national minorities have for a long time been victims of national oppression,” Cabantac said, adding that the Cordillerans launched the Defend Land, Life and Resources Coalition last year when the Suyo, Ilocos Sur Association launched its campign  against mining exploration in the municipality.

“Mining exploration is a form of development aggression. Building dams, yun naman ang issue na ni-raise ng mga Kalinga group. This is also another form of development aggression,” she said. Last year, the issue of a geothermal project in Ifugao was also raised as another development aggression, she said.

Josie Pingkihan, secretary general of Bayan Hong Kong-Macau, urged the indigenous peoples to unite against the destroyers of their natural resources, saying that if they don’t act now, the present population and future generations will suffer.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of Mission for Migrant Workers, praised the Cordilleran indigenous peoples for preserving the tradition of “dap-ayan,” or community gathering to discuss various matters. She urged everyone to use the platform to discuss current issues affecting the Filipino people. 

Cynthia Abdon-Tellez
“I think that is the beauty of dap-ayan and you should keep it,” she urged the Cordillerans.

Elna Apao
Nine poets from various Cordillera workers’ groups entered the contest, which was themed “Empowering Cordilleran migrants on their rights and welfare for the defense of our land, life and resources.”

In the end, Elna Apao of Sadanga Organization won first place with her English poem “Cordillera”, Narissa Gaiwen of Singles & Doubles took second place with her entry “Paraiso” and Eileen Compitay of  Otocan Migrant Workers’ Association placed third with her “Pagiging Igorot Ating Ipagmalaki”.

Cabantac said the so-called World Bank-funded development projects have not really improved the lives of the minorities in the Cordilleras.

“Bakit tayo nandito na nakaupo sa lansangan ng Hong Kong. Bakit nandito pa rin tayo na nagpapaalila, pinapahirapan ng ating mga employer, kung meron namang development na nangyayari sa mining, … sa mga itinatayong dam? Dams, that is another issue, that is another form of development aggression,” she said.

She noted that the IMF/World Bank, which met in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct 12, 13 and 14, is financing development aggression projects. She blamed the IMF for miring the country in debt during martial law in President Ferdinand Marcos’ time. She said the massive government borrowing is again being repeated.

She also scored the government for introducing mandatory insurance, which she said was an attempt to extort from migrant workers again. “Wala nang katapusan ang pangingikil, ang pangogotong sa ating mga migranteng manggagawa,” she said.
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