The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) strongly condemns the persisting fascist attacks against the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) and the government’s outright revision of history by removing the heroes’ monument of Indigenous martyrs.
Recently, the Provincial Advisory Council of Kalinga Provincial Police office issued a request to remove the heroes’ monument of Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan, a monument built to honor those who fought to defend the lives and rights of the indigenous communities against the construction of the Chico Dams. The request was made after Gen. Pagkalinawan of the Police Regional Office in Cordillera visited Bugnay, Kalinga, where the monument is located. On many occasions while people are grappling with the pandemic, Gen. Pagkalinawan and police elements have repeatedly red-tagged the CPA accusing them as recruiters of the New Peoples’ Army.
The Chico River Dam Project funded by the World Bank was one of the priority projects during the Marcos dictatorship sought to exploit the natural resources of the Cordillera. The plan was to build a series of dams along the Chico River for power generation that would have flooded towns, villages, rice fields, and even sacred burial grounds in Kalinga and in Mountain Province. The dam also threatened to displace over a thousand indigenous Igorot families, and affect the lives, livelihood, lands, and water source of more than 100,000 IP in Kalinga and Bontoc. Affected indigenous communities organized petitions and delegations to draw the government’s attention to their concerns regarding the project. Marcos and his cronies did not heed the concerns of the IP, and instead, devised ways to delegitimize the opposition against the construction of the dam. Bribery, deception and coercion were used to divide the indigenous tribes and weaken their resistance. But the IP of the Cordillera organized traditional peace pacts between communities to broaden and solidify their resistance against the Chico Dam project.
IP communities and advocates actively participated in the fight, even using their bodies as a blockade to prevent survey work and entry of equipment for the dam project. The Chico Dam resistance drew local and international support from church groups, environmentalists, rights advocates, and progressive organizations pushing the World Bank to withdraw.
On April 24, 1980, military forces gunned down Macliing Dulag and Pedro Dungoc in an attempt to curb the growing people’s resistance. Macliing Dulag, tribal chieftain of the Butbut tribe, was martyred on that night, but Pedro Dungoc survived and later joined the revolt to overthrow the Marcos dictatorship as a New People’s Army (NPA). Lumbaya Gayuden, one of the tribal leaders of the Butbut tribe, and many others from warrior communities had also been targeted by military forces, and after witnessing the limitations of purely legal struggle, had later joined the NPA.
The historic anti-Chico Dams struggle is built upon and strengthened by the collective power of the IP of Cordillera alongside IP advocates and rights defenders for their right to their ancestral land and self-determination.
The success of the IP of Cordillera who bravely stood against the IMF and World Bank in the time of the dictatorship is a monumental win of the struggle of IP around the world directly threatened by State forces and big business dispossessing them of their lands and life.
The heroes’ monument, built through the joint undertaking by the martyr’s family, the communities, and the CPA, is a legacy and reminder of the bravery of those who stood in all forms of resistance – from people’s movements to armed struggle.
Around the world, people are rising against the white-washing of indigenous history by tearing down statues of colonizers and slave traders that edified the colonial values of racism, genocide, rape, slavery and plunder of ancestral lands. Protesters in the US have destroyed statues of Christopher Columbus and the Confederate, symbols that support racial inequality. In Colombia, Indigenous groups in protest have toppled the statue of Belalcázar, a Spanish conquistador who led the campaign against the Misak Indigenous people which killed and enslaved thousands of them.
While Indigenous peoples are reclaiming their history, the Philippine National Police on the other hand is deliberately revising the people’s history to fit the government’s narratives. These are part and parcel of the government’s plans to desecrate the memory of our IP martyrs and erase the rich and militant history of people’s resistance against destructive projects, plunderers, and rights violators. It desperately devalues the people’s capacity to push for radical changes and decide to shape their future.
From the growing criminalization, harassment, and terrorist-tagging of Indigenous rights defenders and the CPA, to the blatant attacks on the Indigenous history and narratives, the present challenges urge us to affirm and continue what Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc, Lumbaya Gayudan, and many Indigenous martyrs around the world fought for.
Let us tirelessly strengthen our call for solidarity for the Indigenous Peoples’ aspiration for historical justice and for self-determination.#