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Cop killed, 8 wounded in clash with NPA in Mountain Province

By Joseph Gregorio

Clashes again erupted between elements of the Mountain Province police and the Leonardo Pacsi Command (LPC) of the New People’s Army at the boundary of Tadian and Bauko municipalities Tuesday afternoon resulting in the death of a police officer and the wounding of eight others.

At about 3:45 Teusday afternoon, LPC fighters blasted a command-detonated explosive against pursuing Regional Mobile Force Battalion-Philippine National Police (RMFB-PNP) Cordillera troopers.

Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCor) said Police Corporal Marlon Casil was killed while wounded in the police operation were Patrolman Erwin Calixto, PCpl Marcelo Bayeng, PCpl Ramadick Meloy, PCpl Clifford Gama, PCpl Edwin Keya, PCpl John Calcaligong, PSSgt Salvador Agalatiw, PMSgt Alphedes Alvaro.

Tuesday’s incident was the third time the LPC engaged government troops in a fire fight.

On Monday, the LPC launched a harassment operation against the pursuing police at Tadian’s Mt. Kilakilat two days after a police officer was killed and another was wounded in an encounter between the guerrillas and the police at Mt. Gunggung-o in Barangay Bagnen, Bauko.

Philippine Army 54th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Narciso Nabulneg Jr. said they have joined the police in the pursuit operations against the communist fighters.

Earlier, the Tadian Municipal government issued an advisory to the residents and visitors to avoid the mountainous parts of Tadian’s Bas-ang area (Barangays Lubon, Masla, Sumadel, Batayan, Bantey, Duagan, Mabalite) and Sitios Pingew, Luwagan, Malupa and Tabeo areas in neighboring Bauko.

The Bauko municipal disaster risk reduction and management office implemented a pre-emptive evacuation at Sitios Cotcot, Sitios Luagan and Malupa in Abatan, Bauko. #

Bauko LGU cancels tourism activities due to police operations vs NPA

Contributed by Joseph Gregorio

Tourists in Bauko, Mountain Province are advised from visiting spots in some areas in the municipality following recent fighting between Leftist guerrillas and the Cordillera police.

The Bauko Municipal Government through its municipal tourism officer Arsenia Addon announced that all booked tourism activities have been cancelled as the Regional Police Safety Battalion (RPSB) of the Cordillera Police are pursuing fighters of the Leonardo Pacsi Command-New People’s Army (LPC-NPA).

“We appreciate your understanding for the inconvenience,” Addon said.

The Cordillera police have reportedly launched operations in the are to “flush out” NPA fighters/

The LPC-NPA in a statement Sunday said it ambushed operating troops of the RPSB at around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon in Mt. Makilakilat of the adjacent northern barangays of the municipality of Tadian.

The NPA said the ambush frustrated Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operations in the area following an earlier encounter that killed a police officer and wounded another.

Last Saturday, in time for the NPA’s 50th founding anniversary, the LPC-NPA engaged in a fire fight with an RPSB unit at around 9:45 AM in Mt. Gunggung-o in Barangay Bagnen, Bauko.

LPC spokesperson Magno Udyaw said the fire fight lasted for 15 minutes.

The ongoing police operation in Tadian is a bid to save their face from its loss, Udyaw said.

Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CDPF) spokesperson Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan for his part said the AFP and PNPs claim that the ongoing operations is to simply flush out the NPA in Mountain Province is preposterous.

“In its frantic scramble to claim that they are having the upper hand in their counter-revolutionary campaign, PNP and AFP mouthpieces and spin masters resort to crying in the media and blabbering gibberish in social media to cover up their losses,” Naogsan said.

The NPA said it launched the March 29 attack to punish the RPSB as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for protecting plunderous large-scale mines, logging and energy businesses.

Udyaw said numerous cases of human rights violations are being committed such as harassments, indiscriminate pointing and firing of rifles, and confiscation of lumber intended for housing and community use during government troops operations.

He added that corruption is also rampant as DENR and police officials sell or take for personal use whatever they have sequestered from locals. #

Soldiers sow fear in Mountain Province village

By Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol 

BESAO, Mountain Province—Government soldiers occupying houses in Sitio Dandanac, Barangay Tamboan in Besao, Mountain Province are restricting the movement of village folk and causing fear among residents, a human rights fact-finding team said.

A community elder who spoke to the team Thursday, August 9, said the soldiers started occupying several houses in the community after a fire fight with the New People’s Army last month.

The elder requested not to be named due to fear of reprisals.

“The mere sight of the soldiers and their guns makes us feel uneasy and unsafe that we have become afraid to move around or even go to our rice fields,” the elder told the human rights team.

The elder said the soldiers has also required villagers to secure a “safety conduct pass” and government issued identification cards before being allowed to tend to their crops in their communal forest.

“It would be best if the soldiers would leave, but since it seems like that is not happening soon, we have to deal with our fear,” the elder said.

‘Community Service Program’

First Lieutenant Jade Gabino of the 81st Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army said they were merely implementing security measures.

Gabino added they asked barangay officials for a list of residents whose farms are in the mountains and were given 72 names.

Those not in the list will be questioned, he added.

Gabino said they are not leaving anytime soon as their Community Service Program has yet to be concluded.

He said that the program was already approved through an executive order signed by the governor of Mountain Province.

He explained that soldiers will facilitate the implementation of local government programs such as medical missions, adding that some agencies are afraid to go to Dandanac due to the presence of armed groups.

Guns and military gear under a house occupied by 81st IBPA troopers in Sitio Dandanac, Besao, Mountain Province. (Photo by Sarah Dekdeken/Cordillera Peoples Alliance)

Delayed harvest, delayed planting

Farmers interviewed by the human rights team said that soldiers demand presentation of identification cards or resident certificates before being allowed to go to their farms.

“We have no choice but to comply because we have to tend to our farms and bring home our harvest or the rains would damage them,” one of the farmers said. “We have to eat,” he added.

The farmers said their rice harvest was reduced by half because of the military’s presence in their village. They added that the next planting season might even be delayed as a result.

The Mountain Province Human Rights Advocates (MPHRA) said several Sitio Dandanac farmers have yet harvest rice due to the military operations.

Fr. Joseph Requino, MPHRA chairperson said that the “safety conduct pass” policy is meant to secure soldiers and not civilians.

He said villagers know each other and can easily identify outsiders while the soldiers could not.

The human rights fact-finding mission was held in time for the commemoration of International Indigenous Peoples Day 2018. #

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. #