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Anti-dam activist’s abductors wanted him to turn gov’t spy

Tauli’s colleagues said kidnappers were state security forces

The abductors of anti-dam campaigner Stephen “Steve” Tauli wanted him to turn government spy and tried to force him to confirm fellow activists’ alleged links with underground revolutionary groups.

The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) on Monday, August 29, said the Kankanaey Igorot activist was also forced to sign a sworn statement admitting he was a leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

“The whole time, Steve was blindfolded and handcuffed, while being threatened that they could kill him anytime if he would not cooperate,” the groups said.

Tauli, CPA regional council member, was assaulted and abducted by five men at a store near the CPA office in Barangay Appas in Tabuk City, Kalinga province at around 6:45 in the evening.

“As he was leaving, five men suddenly grabbed him, blindfolded and handcuffed him, then mauled him and forced him into a black van while he was desperately struggling and screaming for help,” the groups’ joint statement said.

–cORDILLERA PEOPLES’ ALLIANCE AND CORDILLERA HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE

While inside a black van he was forced into, Tauli was blindfolded, handcuffed and mauled while he desperately struggled and screamed for help, the two organizations reported.

The victim immediately and repeatedly demanded for his captors to identify themselves and their units as well as to bring to either a police station or a military camp, instead of an unknown location. Tauli also told his abductors to file charges against him in court if they thought he had committed a crime, the CPA and the CHRA narrated.

“Here, the men started to lecture Steve about the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the government anti-insurgency program) and its objective of stopping the insurgency problem in the country. They interrogated him about his work and some people he allegedly has links with,” their statement said.

‘Under duress’

After an hour of interrogation, the van drove for another two hours, stopping on what Tauli reportedly thought was a secluded area and where the interrogation continued for several more hours.

“They said that he could help them by neutralizing certain persons they identified as leaders of the CPP-NPA in the Cordillera region,” the groups’ statement said.

–cORDILLERA PEOPLES’ ALLIANCE AND CORDILLERA HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE

The CPA and CHRA said Tauli feared for his life, knowing what had happened to his friend and fellow activist James Balao who was abducted in Baguio City in 2008 and was never surfaced.

After repeated threats to his life and thoughts of distress to his family for suddenly going missing, Tauli agreed to sign a prepared sworn statement. His kidnappers then removed his blindfold to sign the document and read it while being recorded on video.

 “They then threatened him not to report what had happened and to comply with what he had signed, otherwise they would harm him, his family, and his colleagues,” the CPA and CHRA narrated.

Tauli reportedly told the groups his wearing masks the entire time.

Tauli was released by his kidnappers the next evening, August 21, near where he was abducted and was made to walk to the CPA-Kalinga office. His colleagues, who were about to continue to search for him that night, found the victim dazed and in shock, the organizations said.

Red-tagged anti-dam activist

The groups said that Tauli, like fellow CPA leaders and members, were subject to red-tagging, surveillance and harassment before the incident.

Tauli’s abduction came at a time while CPA-Kalinga launched a campaign against the Saltan Dam and right after his group filed a petition for a Writ of Amparo at the Court of Appeals because of the continuing red-tagging and attacks against human rights defenders.

Saltan River as seen from below a Balbalan, Kalinga Bridge. (R. Villanueva)

Saltan River in upper Kalinga province is considered one of the country’s cleanest inland waterway. It is a major tributary of the Chico River system and passes through the famed Balbalasang Balbalan National Park, “the green heart of the Cordillera.”

The Saltan D River Hydroelectric Power Project is listed to be on its pre-development stage and awarded by the government to a company called the JBD Management and Consulting Services, Inc.

“We are of the firm belief that the swift response of family, colleagues and the wider community to immediately search for him, government officials who stood by their mandate to protect their constituents, and the public outcry forced his abductors to release Steve Tauli,” the CPA and CHRA said.

“His was a near-death experience in the hands of his abductors who clearly were part of the State security forces,” they added.

The groups said Tauli and his family are still reeling from the deep trauma caused by his abduction and threats to his life are still continuing. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bantayog welcomes Chico River monument replica in QC

A replica of a monument in Kalinga province had been installed at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City on Saturday, May 17, in a bid to further introduce three of its honorees to residents of the National Capital Region.

The indigenous people’s arts group Sining Sandiwa installed a copy of the Anti-Chico Dams Struggle Heroes’ Monument more than a month after the original in Bugnay village in Tinglayan, Kalinga had been restored.

READ: On Day of Valor, Kalinga tribe restores Cordillera Heroes’ Monument

Suspected police agents destroyed the monument last January 13.

READ: Monument to Cordillera martyrs demolished

The monument honors the heroes of the Butbut Tribe’s successful anti-Chico River dam project struggle during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

Three metal panels of the monument featured Macliing Dulac, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan while names of other Cordillera heroes—Kathlyn Iyabang-Atumpa, Guzman Gunday, Julio Dulanag, Pingwot Dawing, Yag-ao Ebulwang, Daniel Ijog, Orchag Olyog, Simeon Talis, Dalunag Dawadaw, Gaspar Yag-ao and Elena Edpis—were also etched on smaller metal plates placed around the monument.

READ: Cordillerans unveil Chico River heroes’ marker

On April 24, 1980, soldiers led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem raided Bugnay to look for Macliing and Dungoc who were then active leaders in the struggle against the projects.

Dulag was killed when his and Dungoc’s house were strafed. Dungoc was injured in the attack that killed Dulag and later joined the revolutionary New People’s Army.

Tribe elder Gayudan took up leadership roles after the attack on his fellow elders.

Activists untie ribbons to unveil the monument’s replica. (R. Villanueva/Kodao)

In a statement, the Bantayog ng mga Bayani said it welcomes the replica as an inspiration to Filipinos.

“We honor the Cordilleras as an example of a successful struggle of the marginalized against powerful giants,” Bantayog executive director Ma. Cristina Rodriguez said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Monument to Cordillera martyrs demolished

The monument to the three martyrs of the anti-Chico Dam struggle during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship was demolished by suspected police personnel last Wednesday, January 13, in Tinglayan, Kalinga province.

The metal panels featuring the faces of Ama Macliing Dulag, Ama Lumbaya Gayudan and Ama Pedro Dungoc were removed from the Anti-Chico Dams Struggle Monument platform located along the Bontoc-Kalinga road.

The monument’s commemorative inscription was likewise removed.

The demolished panels of the monument. (Northern Dispatch photo)

Barangay Bugnay village officials and the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) point to members of the Philippine National Police as the perpetrators of the desecration, Northern Dispatch reported.

The Police Advisory Council of the Kalinga Provincial Police Office recommended the monument’s removal in September last year.

Last October, the Department of Public Works and Highways issued a notice to the CPA that the monument violated road right of way.

According to an Inquirer report, the upper Kalinga district engineering office said the monument “lies 4.10 meters from the centerline of the road” and that it “encroached [on] or is within the road right-of-way of the national road.”

In the same report, however, the CPA said the memorial lies within the property of Macli-ing’s son, Robert, and should not be removed without permission from the family and the community.

Pushing it farther from the road would be improbable because it was perched near a cliff, the group added.

The base of the monement after demolition. (Northern Dispatch photo)

In November last year, a petition was launched on change.org saying the monument’s removal is “a brazen act of obliterating the Cordillera people’s history of struggle against oppression and injustice.”

“It is part of the government’s acts of historical revisionism or distorting and erasing the true history of the people’s resistance and heroism which remain relevant until today,” the petition said.

The Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, a group dedicated to the preservation of anti-Marcos martial law heroes, also said it opposes the plan to demolish the monument.

The site is “a precious heroes’ marker in Kalinga province, and urges government to cherish and protect the monument for the inspiration of all Filipino ethnic peoples,” the group said.

READ: Cordillerans unveil Chico River heroes’ marker

Unveiled in April 2017, the marker also honored other Cordillera heroes—Kathlyn Iyabang-Atumpa, Guzman Gunday, Julio Dulanag, Pingwot Dawing, Yag-ao Ebulwang, Daniel Ijog, Orchag Olyog, Simeon Talis, Dalunag Dawadaw, Gaspar Yag-ao and Elena Edpis—whose names were also etched on the marker. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

A woman who ‘squeezed men’s balls’ in defense of her homeland

By Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol

BONTOC, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE–Today, May 31, Petra “Ina Tannao” Macliing, a pioneering indigenous woman leader who stood against corporate greed, development agression and martial law was laid to rest in her beloved Mainit village in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

She is far from being “weak and meek”—as President Rodrgio Duterte said women are. She is not just an indigenous woman leader but a fierce warrior.

In the 1970s, women from Mainit village bared their breasts as they confronted engineers of a mining company that intended to operate in their ancestral land. Baring breasts among the Bontoc are believed to hex unwanted strangers in their communities. The engineers left.

The leader of the warrior women was Ina Tannao who passed on last May 25, 90 years old at the time of her passing.

This story about Ina Tannao and the Mainit women is a tale retold in gatherings of women activists to illustrate the lengths Cordillera women will go to protect their homeland from aggressors.

Ina Chamgay Tay-ug was with Ina Tannao when the women drove away the mining engineers. She vividly remembers that day but struggles now to remember the date.

“Tannao gathered us women that day. She told us we will be the ones to stop [the mine] from destroying our mountain,” she related.

Ina Chamgay said the women climbed the mountain where the engineers were drilling, and “stripped naked like Tannao told us.”

“We dared them to harm the womb from where they came,” she said.

After driving the engineers away, the Mainit women raided their camp, took all of their supplies to the town center and left these there to rot. “We did not eat their food. We just wanted them to leave,” Ina Chamgay said.

The Mainit women’s chants are still being shouted in political gatherings today: “Uray maid armas mi/ armas mi nan ima mi / estawes, esta-gawis/ ikmer mi snan fitfitli, fitfitlin na raraki/ estawes, esta-gawis!” (We may not be armed/ but our hands are our weapons/ We use our bare hands to squeeze balls, the balls of men.)

Despite having similar names, Ina Tannao is not related to Cordillera hero Macli-ing Dulag, the Butbut tribe pangat (leader) in Kalinga who was assassinated in 1980 for opposing the Chico River Dam project of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. But like Dulag, Ina Tannao also actively opposed the World Bank-funded Chico Dam project and fought the entry of mining ventures in her province.

Ina Tannao did not confine herself solely to the concerns of her village. She attended bodong (peace pact) conferences where the pangats from the Bontoc and Kalinga villages discussed the impact of the Chico river projects, Joanna Cariño said, founder of the activist group Cordillera Peoples Alliance. These conferences unified the Cordillera against the dam project, corporate logging in Abra province and Marcos’s Martial Law.

From 1981 to 1983, Ina Tannao helped form the Cordillera Bodong Association and became the only female pangat. Ina Tannao also helped form the Kalinga-Bontoc Peace Pact Holders Association in 1979, a federation of tribal leaders and peace pact holders.

Ina Tannao lost her husband early and was left to raise eight children. Her only son died at a very young age.

She earned a living on the farm or by tending to a sari-sari store in order to put her seven daughters through college.

Lawyer Franscesca Macliing-Claver, her youngest child, said she was three months old when her father died. “She was the only parent I have known,” she said.

Ina Tannao once told her children a story about a couple who offered to adopt their youngest sibling, Claver said. “I was that baby. The couple came with baby clothes and feeding bottles, ready to fetch me. But my mother refused to give me up,” she said. “My sisters used to tease me that I was destined to have a different surname.”

Georgia Velasco of the Cordillera Elders Alliance (CEA) said she met Mother Petra in early 1980s when the older woman encouraged her peers to take adult literacy classes. “She valued education and learning and never stopped learning and sharing what she learned to others,” even though Mother Petra never attended college, Velasco said.

Ina Tannao helped organize her fellow literacy students into a farmers organization. At the age of 70, she helped form the Cordillera Elders Alliance in 2006. She traveled to the Cordillera provinces to speak to fellow elders about their continuing struggle for social justice.

“If she did not suffer from dementia and was still alive today, she would have opposed the misogyny of President Duterte,” Cariño said.

Macliing’s contributions to social transformation is recognized by local and international bodies.

On May 29, Sagada officials headed by Mayor James Pooten personally handed to the Macling family a council resolution honoring Mother Petra. The resolution recognized her leadership in the Cordillera people’s struggle against the Chico River dams, Cellophil logging, entry of mining in her Mainit village and against Marcos’s dictatorship. “Let her noble accomplishments serve as an inspiration to the present and coming generation,” the resolution read.

In 2009, Macliing was honored as among nine awardees for outstanding rural women of the world of the Women’s World Summit Foundation’s Laureate Prize for Rural Women. She was recognized for her pioneering work and invaluable contribution to the Cordillera people’s struggle for indigenous people’s rights to their land and to self determination. The WWSF Laureate Award honors creative and courageous women for their contribution in improving the quality of life in rural communities, for protecting the environment, transmitting knowledge and standing up for human rights and peace.

In 2012, Macliing was one of the six Filipino women awarded by the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition during the 5th International Day of Rural Women for advancing and promoting indigenous peoples rights and civil rights; for combating violence against women and for seeking better treatment of the rural poor, political prisoners, farmers and children.

Current CPA chair Windel Bolinget said that while they mourn Ina Tannao’s passing they celebrate her life, “a life well lived”. He said that she set a shining example for the younger generation to follow.

Bolinget challenged everyone to follow Ina Tannao’s example in defending the Cordillera homeland from development agression and continue her work for social justice and national freedom.

“For there is no greater tribute to Ina Tannao but to continue what she has started in the defense of the Cordillera homeland, advancing the right to self-determination and genuine autonomy,” Bolinget said. #

Duterte sells Chico River to China

By RENDILYN CUYOP


BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) called P3.135-billion (US $62.09 million) loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (PIP) that President Rodrigo Duterte secured from the Chinese government last April 10 during his recent visit to China “the latest sell out” of the country’s resources and ancestral lands to foreign investors.

In a press statement, CPA Spokesperson Bestang Dekdeken said the Chico River PIP is part of the Duterte administration’s “build build build” program.

It can be recalled that last March the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) have secured a P4.3B contract with China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd for the Chico River PIP. According to the Department of Finance, the interest rate on the US Dollar denominated loan is 2% per annum with a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period.

The project seeks to create canals diverting the water from the Chico River into different areas in Tuao and Piat Cagayan and Pinukpuk in Kalinga.

Dekdeken said allowing foreign investors in the implementation of projects like the Chico River PIP will result to the privatization of agricultural services. “This is one of the regime’s means to fast-track the entry of foreign corporations to make profit from our deprivation while exploiting our natural resources,” she said.

Dekdeken pointed out that the Bontoc and Kalinga peoples foiled the Chico River dams project with irrigation component of the late Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She added that the PIP and the hydropower projects along the Chico River and its tributaries will be met with opposition because corporate and destructive projects go againsts the interest of the people.

She said that what the people of Kalinga and other farmers whose fields are being irrigated by the Chico River has been free and appropriate irrigation systems that do not take over ancestral lands and directly benefit the people.

“Duterte is deaf to these calls and is instead focused in amassing all political power in the government to make it possible for him to carry-out plans based on his selfish interests and those he kowtows to,” she said.

Dekdeken urged the people to intensify their fight for the respect and recognition of their rights to their ancestral land and to self-determination.

“We shall let the nation witness once again a successful defense of the Chico River to let the river flow free, and as the fire of our dissent engulfs a tyrant’s aspiration for absolute power. Never will we let it be recorded in history that a fascist ruler has crushed the peoples movement with tyranny,” she said.

The annual Cordillera Day celebration every April 24 to commemorate the death of Macliing Dulag who was killed by government forces in 1980 traces its roots to the Cordillera peoples’ defense of the Chico River. Dulag was a Kalinga elder who led his people against the Chico dams project.

This year’s Cordillera Day will be held at the Pacday Quino Elementary School in Barangay Asin Road on April 22-25, will tackle the different issues currently affecting Cordillera indigenous peoples, including the tyranny of the Duterte regime and the continued development aggression in our ancestral lands. # nordis.net

Kalinga, Bumangon Ka

While singing this song entitled, Kalinga, Bumangon Ka, which was composed during the height of the anti-Chico Dam struggle, members of the Innnabuyog-Kalinga are reminded of their responsibility as umili to defend once again their ancestral lands from the encroachment of so-called “development projects”: proposed dams along the Chico River under Pres. Duterte’s Build, Build, Build, Chevron’s geothermal project in the tri-boundary of Pasil, Lubuagan and Tinglayan, etc. which would mean the destruction of their livelihood and their way of life as Kalinga peoples.

Cordillerans unveil Chico River heroes’ marker

BUGNAY folk, church people and other delegations to the ongoing Cordillera Day 2017 opened a shrine in honor of the three leading martyrs of the struggle against Ferdinand Marcos’ Chico River Mega-Dam project in Tinglayan town in Kalinga yesterday, April 23.

Three steel markers representing images of Ama Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan who led the struggle against the World Bank-funded dam project that threatened to submerge Kalinga and Mountain province communities, ricefields and burial grounds  were unveiled along the Bontoc-Tinglayan Road in Bugnay village.

In his message read during the unveiling program, Rev. Brent Harry Alawas, a bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP), said it is fitting that the memorial marker is established in Bugnay village, Macliing’s village, the Chico dam struggle’s first martyr.

On April 24, 1980, soldiers led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem raided Bugnay to look for Macliing and Pedro who were then active leaders in the struggle against the projects.

Macliing was killed that night but Pedro survived.

Pedro later decided to take up arms and join the New People’s Army (NPA) in his continuing pursuit to defend his people and his homeland.

Bishop Alawas said that the first team to respond to the murder of Macliing was from the EDNP in Bontoc.

He said then Bishop Richard Abellon sent his staff Benedict Solang and Victor Ananayo, village leader Eduardo Akiate and Elizabeth Dirige of Bontoc on April 26, 1980 to investigate the incident.

The team threaded through several military checkpoints and gathered information on the killing of Macliing they then made public upon returning to Bontoc.

The initial EDNP fact-finding report was followed up with subsequent missions and protest actions by various groups.

Robert Macliing  expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed to Ama Macliing.

“Ama Macliing was not just my father. He was our father, a father of the Cordillerans.  This marker is ours to be proud of,” he said in a written statement.

“The challenge as Macliing’s children is to strive to follow on his footsteps and continue his struggle for the defense of the homeland,” he added.

Dungoc’s son, Fr. Pedro Dungoc Jr. was among the priests from various denominations who concelebrated a Mass at the unveiling ceremony

“In closing, I would like to borrow the words of Bishop Alawas: Let us be inspired by our martyrs to continue the struggle that they started to protect our ancestral land, environment an resources, rights as indigenous peoples, and to promote just and lasting peacr in the Cordillera,” Pedro Jr. said.

Names of other Cordillera heroes—Kathlyn Iyabang-Atumpa, Guzman Gunday, Julio Dulanag, Pingwot Dawing, Yag-ao Ebulwang, Daniel Ijog, Orchag Olyog, Simeon Talis, Dalunag Dawadaw, Gaspar Yag-ao and Elena Edpis—were also etched at the marker. # (Kimberlie Olmaya Quitasol  / Photo by Audrey Beltran)