Sa gitna ng unos

(Para kay Gene Roz Jamil C. de Jesus)

Ni Ibarra Banaag

Kahit lumuluha sa gitna ng hinahon,

nawa’y mapangibabawan ang hamon,

sana’y maging kalmado sa kumunoy,

kahit pa tumatangis sa dapit hapon.

Ano kaya ang kaniyang dinadanas,

sa sakmal ng mga walang habag,

ang bunsong sa Ina ay tumahan,

na ilang araw na niyang hinahanap.

Sa nagpayabong ng dahon at bulaklak,

 na sa alikabok ay muli pang madama,

sidhi at diliryo ng dambuhalang bigat,

namumukod tanging hangarin matupad.

Ang bisig at kamay na yumayakap,

mga matang may taglay na liwanag,

ang labi na humahalik sa dalamhati,

mga binting naghahatid ng pagbati.

Ngunit kahit sa siphayo’y di mapakali,

kahit pa pilit niyayapos ang pangamba,

kahit pa bangungot ay karimarimarin,

hiling sa Diyos, matunton ang hininga.

Higit na mahalaga ay magka-tuldok,

kaysa mabalisa ng walang tagpos,

at huwag matuyo ang luha sa pisngi,

o ibaon pa sa duyan ng huling hibik.

Subalit habang ang puso’y tumitibok,

ang bawat pintig ay lukso ng dugo,

handang manikluhod sa haring araw,

na bunutin na ang tarak na balaraw.

Ang salitang handa ay walang mukha,

ang tatag ng dibdib ay mapanlinlang,

abutin mang mapaos ang mga tinig,

‘di kailaman magbabago ang tindig.

May 8, 2023


De Jesus is a former student leader and a cum laude graduate of UP Baguio, reported missing since April 28 with Dexter Capuyan, a Bontoc-Ibaloy-Kankanaey indigenous peoples’ right activist. The latter had been accused by state forces as a leader in the New People’s Army.

The two were in Taytay, Rizal where Capuyan was seeking medical attention before they became incommunicado. Human rights group said that it is likely that they have been abducted by the military and demand that the two be immediately surfaced.

Dexter Capuyan (Photo from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance)

Pinoy NGO wins big in global indigenous peoples’ award

A Filipino renewable energy program won a prestigious international award for indigenous peoples given by a United Nations (UN) agency in Rome, Italy on Thursday, February 9.

Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya’s (SIBAT) Community Based Renewable Energy Systems (CBRES) program won the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Best Performing Non-IFAD-Funded Project Award on the occasion of the agency’s 6th global meeting in the said city.

SIBAT is honored for bringing electricity to 1,684 indigenous households in the Cordillera region through community-managed hydroelectric power generation systems.

An indigenous livelihood protection project in Bolivia and an agro-forestry for children’s food security initiative in Cameroon were also honored by the UN special agency in its forum themed “Indigenous Peoples’ Climate Leadership: Community-based solutions to enhance resilience and biodiversity.”

IFAD said SIBAT’s CBRES project has brought clean energy to homes, schools, and health facilities across the mountainous region in northern Philippines as well as fostering rural businesses, like rice and corn mills that help build livelihoods and food security while being sustainable.

“The project is designed using the principles of free, prior and informed consent through which indigenous peoples participate fully and effectively in decision-making processes that affect them. It brings together communities to oversee and operate the power system and set tariffs collectively. Older community members and persons with disabilities oversee and guide the project according to customary laws,” IFAD said.

An indigenous community setting up its micro-hydro power plant with the help of SIBAT. (SIBAT photo)

Indigenous development worker

Present to receive the award is SIBAT technician Glendo Gayed, himself an indigenous person of the Banao tribe of Malibcong, Abra.

“I saw the difficulty of not having electricity in many areas. That is why I took the job as a technician at SIBAT:  to help provide electricity in remote communities,” Gayed said.

He explained that through the project, indigenous peoples in the Cordilleras are adapting and building resilience to climate change, while conserving the watersheds, rivers and waterfalls of their ancestral domain.

“The thing I like most about SIBAT is that we don’t only provide electricity; we help the environment,” Gayed said.

SIBAT executive director Estrella Catarata, also in Rome for the forum and awarding ceremony, said there are 15 micro-hydro power systems in operation under their CBRES program that either operate 24/7 or eight to 12 hours daily in the minimum.

The systems also operate 15 rice mills, a corn mill and several sugar cane processing machines in most of the communities they assist.

Catarata said a key factor in their program’s success is their strong partnership with indigenous peoples communities and local people’s organizations.

Catarata added that their adherence to project principles such as ecological soundness and environmental sustainability, community ownership and collective management, social justice and environmental stewardship, scientific and innovative collaborations, viability and sustainability as well as gender and cultural sensitivity sustain the program.

“We thank the IFAD for this recognition as we continue to commit ourselves to contribute in the overall efforts at mitigating the impact of the global climate change crisis we are facing today,” Catarata said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Electricity that does not destroy the environment


A special report by Raymund B. Villanueva

UPPER Katablangan in Conner, Apayao province enjoys 20 years of nearly uninterrupted power supply from the community’s micro-hydro project this year. This remote community located 20 kilometers from its nearest neighboring barangay could be reached with an eight-hour trek up a perilous foot trail when it is rainy or two hours on expertly-driven motorcycles when the road is dry enough. It is one of the first barangays in Abra, Kalinga and Apayao provinces to build a micro-hydro power plant for electricity, a vital service often taken for granted in lowland communities.

READ PART 1: From bodong to electricity (A remote Isneg community enjoys 2 decades of renewable energy)

Building a micro-hydro power project—it took the indigenous Isnegs of Katablangan six long years—is one thing, keeping it dependably running is another however. Maintaining a 7.5kw power plant where destructive typhoons often wreak havoc on lives and property, where replacement parts are hard to purchase and deliver, and where engineers of the Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT, their project partner) usually takes weeks to reach for repairs is hard. When these happen, these are the times that Katablangan reverts to dark nights, save for good old-fashioned kerosene lamps.

Upper Katablangan folk installing upgrade parts at their micro-hydro power station. (Photo by Engr. Jey Mart Erasquin/Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya)

SIBAT engineer Jey Mart Erasquin said Katablangan was among their partner communities that followed their maintenance recommendations faithfully. “Their dam is cleaned regularly to prevent twigs and leaves from clogging the pipes that supply the water to the power station. If twigs and leaves keep going into the equipment, the blades may be damaged earlier. The station’s location close to the household also allows them to immediately shut the machines down if trouble arises,” Erasquin explained.

“We try our best to keep the equipment in good condition.  The children do not like power outages while we watch our favorite television shows,” village elder Dalmacio “Dalma” Lugayan said laughingly.

The Katablangan mini-power station only had three breakdown and major equipment replacements in its two decades of operation. “Our equipment has an average lifespan of six or seven years,” Dalma explained, adding it usually takes weeks for replacement machines to arrive.

Part of Upper Katablangan’s hand-built public waterworks by the Matalag River. (J. Erasquin/SIBAT)

Each replacement part is usually of newer design and better quality, many of which engineers of SIBAT manufacture in their workshop in the organization’s organic farm in Capas, Tarlac. SIBAT engineers periodically return to install safety equipment such as lightning arresters and voltage regulators to keep power supply stable. Power belts and wiring have to be regularly replaced and upgraded as well. Last April, a bigger voltage regulator was installed at the power station that allows for a more stable 220 volt supply such as when power tools are used by the carpenters.

 ‘Change is difficult’

A large part of northern Cordillera remains among the Philippines’ off grid regions in terms of power connectivity from electric cooperatives. Government energy agencies are also still trying to ascertain specific numbers of households and communities that electricity distribution companies and cooperatives need to have connected to their power lines. Current estimates say 15 million Filipinos still do not have electricity in their homes.

“Electrification is a moving target of sorts because the census (done every five years) presents a bigger number of households that need to be connected to electricity providers,” Isak Jonathan Villanueva, National Electrification Administration (NEA) Renewable Energy Development Division principal engineer, said. He added that the country’s archipelagic nature presents a difficult challenge to put most of the Philippines on grid. “There are many areas that could not be easily connected to the Luzon or Visayas energy grids and have to generate their electricity from fossil fuel power plants.  Consequently, interior communities are the last on the list in electricity connection projects,” Villanueva explained.

He added that the government is currently concentrating in Mindanao—such as in Misamis Occidental and Surigao Sur where there are newly-signed joint venture agreements between power distribution cooperatives and investors—in its effort to “energize” 75,150 households. It is one of the component projects under the Mindanao Development Authority and funded by multilateral groups such as the European Union, Villanueva said. He added that another renewable energy project is in the works in Pampanga province that uses solar power.

The expert said that the Department of Energy (DOE) is still in the process of identifying areas that need electrification in its drive to have the entire country connected to electricity distributors. Villanueva said he hopes the process gains momentum after the signing of the Microgrid Systems Law (Republic Act 11646) by former President Rodrigo Duterte last January 21. “The process of asking investors to submit bids for power generation and distribution in un-served and underserved areas follows,” Villanueva said. He revealed that the NEA has finished drafting the guidelines on the Microgrid Systems Act and its new Board under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration is hoped to approve it anytime soon.

He added that among the incentives the newly-minted law offers is a value added tax holiday for the first seven years for renewable energy generators, “in addition to the fact that renewable energy redounds to lower electricity rates compared to coal that has a decreasing supply, particularly from Indonesia where we source a large quantity of it.”

Villanueva said power generation companies still lean towards “dirty fuel” such as coal. In addition, current standards only allow a maximum of 50 megawatts for renewable energy generators, another barrier to the achievement of 35 percent power generation from renewable sources by 2040 in accordance with Renewable Energy Law of 2008 (Republic Act 9513). The DOE reports that about 24 percent of the country’s power output is generated by renewable energy, mostly from hydroelectric dams.

“Change is difficult,” Villanueva admitted.

Nonetheless, the engineer said that independent and micro renewable energy initiatives such as micro hydropower, solar, wind and biomass power generators are slowly getting popular, albeit still regarded as less profitable for power-generators compared to those that use fossil fuels.

Off grid but renewable

Katablangan’s micro-hydro power project is seen as a small but viable alternative to the difficulties in supplying electricity to remote communities in regions such as in the Cordillera. In addition to micro-hydro projects, other communities in the area have hybrid power projects that combine their micro-hydro projects with solar panels and wind turbines offered by both the country’s tropical climate and the region’s elevated topography.

Church groups under the One Faith, One Nation, One Voice (OFONOV)-Cordillera Chapter support such projects it says makes judicious use of the environment as opposed to what it calls development aggression brought by the government’s insistence on constructing massive dams on the entire Chico River system and its major tributaries.  OFONOV is made up of bishops, priests, nuns, ministers, missionaries, seminarians and members of the Roman Catholic Church as well as mainline Protestants under the National Council of the Philippines such as the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and Methodist Church of the Philippines. According to the OFONOV, there are five dams projects in Abra province, six in Apayao province (four of which are pending), and 11 in Kalinga province (two of which are pending).  These are part of the 77 hydroelectric projects in the entire Cordillera Administrative Region, 66 of which have been completed.

Map showing power generating facilities in the entire Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR image)

The coalition however asks on whose benefit are the huge number of hydroelectric dams in the region’s many rivers. Electricity distribution cooperatives in the region, such as the controversial Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), still buy a large portion of electricity they distribute from dirty fuel such as from the Sual coal-fired thermal power plant in Pangasinan province despite the fact that it has two of the country’s biggest hydro-electric dams in the country in the Ambuklao and Binga dams.

It is the Cordillera people’s opposition to hydropower dams that have reenergized their struggles for self determination since the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship. Northern Cordillera’s successful opposition to the World Bank-funded first Chico River Dam project has created martyrs and heroes such as Macliing Dulag of the Butbut Tribe in Apayao and Petra Macliing of the Bontoc Tribe. The regional group Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) is a product of the struggles and is still at it, often to their peril as shown by the abduction and torture of its Tabuk City-based officer Stephen Tauli last August 20. Tauli leads ongoing opposition to more dams in northern Cordillera. CPA said that such projects are accompanied by the deployment of more government troops in the area that inevitably lead to more human rights violations.

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

Cordillerans largely oppose more hydro-power dams they say often lead to floods, sedimentation and siltation that affect their farmlands, such as the case of the Gened 1 Hydroelectric Power Project (Gened 1 HEPP) they say would negatively impact seven upstream barangays of Kabugao town. “[W]hen sedimentations would be released and the spillway would be opened after torrential rains and typhoons, such would surely instigate downstream flooding that would certainly affect the downstream barangays in the municipalities of Pudtol, Flora, Sta. Marcela and Luna of the province of Apayao. And not only the five municipalities of Apayao but also the downstream four municipalities of the province of Cagayan, namely, Abulug, Pamplona, Ballesteros and Allacapan would also be tormented due to sedimentations and siltation from Gened 1 HEPP,” the OFONOV said in an April 2021 statement.

Cordillera People’s Alliance mapping of military deployment in relation to dams and mining operations in the region. (CPA image)

The coalition added that the project’s second phase, the Gened 2 Hydroelectric Power Project (Gened 2 HEPP) would similarly affect 12 more barangays with a combined population of 7,100 individuals according to the 2016 national census. Three more hydropower dams by the DOE are in pipeline in the towns of Calanasan and Conner, the Calanasan GenEd 2, Nabuangan dam and Cupis dam that are part of the $3 billion loan from the Chinese government by proponents Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines Corporation (PPRPC) as well as Strategic Power of San Miguel Corporation. Another dam project in Calanasan, the Apayao 7 MW project is being planned by Aboitiz Power.

The coalition added that 105 plant species, 51 bird species, 22 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 19 mammal species still abundant in Apayao are in danger from the hydropower projects.

“There is strong opposition of the Isnag indigenous people due to fact that their national minority rights to life, their ancestral lands and indigenous socio-political systems have been violated by acts of national oppression shown particularly in the non-compliance of the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) processes by the DoE, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) and the PPRPC management,” OFONOV said.

The group said it draws lessons from the sad experience of the Ibaloi tribe in Benguet province who were displaced by the Ambuklao and Binga dams in Benguet province and the San Roque Dam in nearby Pangasinan province. They said that the Isnegs strongly resist the construction of more dams in their ancestral domain as “these would totally dislocate and entirely separate them from their ancestral territories, rich resources and livelihood.”

(Infographic by Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

“They do not want the dam projects as these would lead their communities to misery and suffering,” OFONOV said.

Two decades of renewable energy

Unlike the electricity projects of the government, foreign entities and corporations however, Katablangan’s micro-hydro power project has only enjoyed support and gratitude from its residents.

While Katablangan’s remoteness has deprived it of free broadcast television, all of its houses sport satellite dishes on their roofs that offer them more channels to watch. While no mobile phone service reaches the community, all of its households have several radio sets they use for such things as ordering items such as vinegar from the village stores or chatting with village mates. The power station also houses a rice and corn mill, liberating the residents from the backbreaking task and affording them more free time for other activities.

“Here in Conner, we have the unique phenomenon of lowlanders making the eight-hour trek up to our village to have their mobile phones, flashlights, radio sets, batteries and other gadgets recharged after strong typhoons have damaged their [on grid] power supply lines. Why is that? Because what we have here is a more reliable power supply that is cheaper and cleaner,” village chief Benito Lugayan said.

SIBAT executive director Estrella Catarata said that from the initial 42 households, the Katablangan micro-hydro electricity project has since expanded to Sitio Battong three kilometres away, increasing the number of serviced households to more than 60. They have also since revised their original billing of P50/month per household to P10 kwh in order to save funds for independent maintenance and upgrades. Catarata also reported that the new refrigerator and freezer at Katablangan’s stores are doing brisk business with new items such as ice, ice cream, ice candies, ice-cold soft drinks and frozen food items.

Residents of Sitio Lower Katablangan are currently digging canals for two micro-hydro power projects of their own following the two-decade success of the renewable energy project in Upper Katablangan. (J. Erasquin/SIBAT)

Because of Upper Katablangan’s success with its renewable energy project, people of Lower Katablangan have recently started digging for dams and canals for two micro-hydro power plants of its own. Catarata said that there are no guaranteed financial grants from foreign humanitarian organizations yet but the people have started digging for the dams and canals anyway.

“The Katablangan project is a story of the Cordillera’s abundant source of renewable energy that is harnessed by culturally-sensitive and appropriate technology for the benefit of its people. Its benefits only serve small and remote communities for now but there are many communities in need of electricity. The beauty in this is that it does no harm to the environment that the indigenous peoples still regard as sacred,” Catarata said. #

(This story was produced with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.)

Upper Katablangan has completely transitioned to LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs in recent months. (Raymund Villanueva/Kodao)

[This two-part special report is dedicated to the memory of Randy Felix P. Malayao—brave, true and loyal son of the North. This report’s final draft was finished on what would have been Randy’s 53rd birth anniversary last August 29.]

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.


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.


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 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)

Rights defenders raise alarm over PNP dossier

By Kimberlie Quitasol
BAGUIO CITY–Human rights defenders raised alarm over a ‘confidential memorandum’ of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to its intelligence group to submit a dossier of individuals the police labeled as New People’s Army (NPA) leaders.
Mary Ann Gabayan, secretary general of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) said they are deeply concerned for the people listed in the said memorandum which includes Sherwin de Vera, an environmental activist and journalist, a lawyer and activists from the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, and names like an Edwin Rimando, who has the same family name as Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Ilocos spokesperson, Engr. Eduardo Rimando.
De Vera has already been under the surveillance of the state forces prior to his arrest for trumped-up charges on December 2017 and is currently facing trial.
The said memorandum posted at by a certain Jayson Guerrero on August 10 came from Camp Crame and was dated May 28, 2018. The memorandum was addressed to “chiefs, RIUs 1 and 14” directing them “to provide SOI on the following NPA leader”.
The list  included Jovencio Balweg, a councilor in Malibcong, Abra; lawyer Jose Malintas, United Nation Special Rappoteur Victoria Tauli-Corpus (Corpuz) and Joan Carling, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development of the United Nations, Cordillera activists Joanna Carino, Wendel Bolingit, Jeannet Ribaya Cawiding and Beverly Longid were also listed.
A certain Esteban Manuel is also listed in the said memorandum. It can be recalled that Eduardo Esteban, a senior citizen and cancer survivor was arrested in his house in Jaro, Iloilo on August 5, 2014 with an arrest warrant issued for Esteban Manuel. He was jailed for 13 trumped up charges of murder, frustrated murder and arson among others in various courts in Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur. He was released in 2017 after all the charges were dismissed.
“We hope that the police would be more circumspect in their intelligence gathering so that they will not endanger the lives and security of civilians, indigenouse peoples and human rights defenders,” Atty. Mary Ann Bayang, one of the legal counsels of Corpuz said.
Bayang added that “the police has the obligation to be foremost in ensuring the protection of human rights, not to be instruments in the violation of human rights”.
It is also notable that these individuals were also listed in the proscription petition of the Department of Justice (DOJ) as terrorists. Just recently Corpuz and Molintas were delisted from the proscription terror listing  with former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Consultant Rafael Baylosis.
“Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra even admitted the DOJ did not verify the names they have listed in the proscription petition yet the PNP uses this to issue a memorandum subjecting our colleagues to further harassment,” Gabayan stressed.
“While IHRA is deeply concerned with the safety of our colleagues De Vera and Rimando and other personalities on the list, we will continue to expose these ruthless attacks and will hold the government liable for whatever untoward incident and further attacks that may happen,” Gabayan said.#

Cordillerans to launch #DEFENDCORDILLERA campaign on IP Day

Activists will commemorate International Day of the Worlds’ Indigenous Peoples (IPs) on Thursday, August 9, in Baguio City to call for a stop to intensified attacks, plunder of ancestral land and resources, militarization, and the criminalization of indigenous human rights defenders,

In a press conference in the said city Monday, August 6, the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) said different forms of protest activities will be held in the city, including the launch of an internationally coordinated social media campaign and a cultural and protest march to be attended by indigenous peoples from around the country and abroad.

CPA Secretary General Bestang Dekdeken said that this year’s World’s IP Day will be observed against the backdrop of intensified tyranny, criminalization, harassment and political killings of indigenous human rights defenders in the region.

She said they will drumbeat the killing of anti-dam activist Ricardo Mayumi, the filing of trumped-up cases against five Cordillera women development workers and human rights defenders as well as innocent civilians, and the the terrorist proscription of seven past and present leaders of the CPA as among the issues on Thursday.

The militarization and bombings of communities resisting development aggression, the intensified surveillance and harassment of the offices of regional and provincial IP organizations are included in their campaign, she added.

“Widespread terror against the indigenous peoples is unleashed by the government forces in connivance with big corporations to silence the strong opposition against development aggression or attacks on land, life and rights,” Dekdeken said.

The CPA also accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of being in cahoots with the mining and energy corporationsto destroy our ancestral lands and attack the indigenous peoples, with the help of foreign loans.

“The intensified militarization of communities such as in Besao, Mountain Province is resulting in human rights violations, including trumped-up charges against innocent civilians Edmond and Saturnino Dazon, and disruption of peoples’ livelihood,” Dekdeken added.

Members of the Women Resist Tyranny, meanwhile, expressed alarm over “intensified attacks” against human rights defenders in the Cordilleras.

Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, one of the seven CPA leaders named in a DOJ proscription list released last February, said that women activists and development workers have been at the receiving end of various trumped-up charges since last year.

This, she says, made it more difficult for the delivery of basic social services, projects and campaigns in remote communities which has suffered government neglect for too long now.

“What women development workers are guilty of is having the courage to fight for our children and our kakailian against the evils that try trespass our ancestral lands. We are guilty of carrying on the fight of the brave Kalinga, Ina Petra and Bontoc women who opposed the Chico dam, the women of Abra who fought the operation of Cellophil Resources in Abra, and the all the women warriors of Cordillera who resist national oppression,” Cawiding said.

The CPA shall launched its social media campaign dubbed #DEFENDCORDILLERA from August 8 to 10.

They said they enjoin the support of all Igorots around the world and advocates of indigenous peoples rights to post, write and share their solidarity through their social media accounts.

On thursday, a protest cultural march to Baguio’s Malcolm Square will also be held by mostly indigenous groups from all the six provinces of the region and Baguio City. # (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


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. #