From InterAksyon (Apr 24): 34 years after his death, Macliing Dulag's call to defend the land still resonates among Cordilerans
Had it not been for the struggle for which Macliing Dulag (inset) sacrificed his life, these rice terraces fed by the Chico River would have been submerged forever by dams the Marcos dictatorship planned to build. (photo of rice terraces by Arthur L. Allad-iw, Northern Dispatch)
“What is the most precious thing to man? Life! If life is threatened, what ought a man do? Fight! This he must do, otherwise he is dishonored. That will be worse than death. If we do not fight and the dams push through, we die anyway. If we fight, we die honorably. Thus I exhort you all then, ‘Kayaw’ (all-out people’s struggles)!” - Macliing Dulag (1930-April 24, 1980)
BONTOC, Mountain province -- Thirty-four years after he was cut down in a hail of bullets from an Army unit led by Lieutenant Leodegario Adalem in the village of Bugnay in Tinglayan, Kalinga on April 24, 1980, these words of pangat (leader) Macliing Dulag still resonate among Cordillerans who continue to struggle against the encroachment of large mining and energy projects they see as a threat to their land and way of life.
In the late 1970s, Macliing led his people in thwarting plans by then President Ferdinand Marcos to build four World Bank-funded hydroelectric power dams along the Chico River, thus earning the ire of the dictatorship. The project would have inundated at least 1,400 square kilometers, wiping out villages, rice terraces, orchards and tribal graveyards, and displaced the lives of as many as 100,000 people along the river.
Thursday, people from all over the region, led by the Cordillera People’s Alliance, gathered in Barangay Guinaang in Pasil town to honor Macliing on his death anniversary, celebrated as Cordillera Day, and to seek inspiration from the lessons he left as they pursue their continued struggle against what they call the “imperialist plunder” of their lands and resources.
The CPA says most of the region’s 1,829,369 hectares are covered by applications for resource extractive projects -- mining, geothermal, hydro and other energy projects -- and plagued by militarization.
There are 287 various and overlapping mining applications, aside from the 177 patented mining claims and at least 88 hydropower projects, eight geothermal projects, and one wind energy project in the region, according to the CPA.
And data from the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau show at least sixty-seven percent of the region’s land area is targeted for mining.
Aside from plans by foreign mining corporations to set up operations in Kalinga, the US Chevron Corporation is also eyeing a geothermal project in the province.
Data from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples show Chevron applying to explore in at least 26,000 hectares in the municipalities of Tinglayan, Lubuagan and Pasil, all in Kalinga.
“This US-based giant corporation is eyeing to set up a geothermal power facility in Mt. Binulauan, which is located in the tri-boundary of the three municipalities. It stands (at) 7,641 feet and is classified by Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) as an active volcano with fumarole fields and hot springs on its slopes and in the different areas of the three towns,” said Alma Sinumlag, a resident of one of the affected towns.
She said Chevron’s initial exploration shows Binulauan’s geothermal capacity to be between 120-200 megawatts. The firm plans to set up its facility by 2017, she added.
However, the CPA said the project is being pursued without the consent of people in the affected communities. The organization accuses the National Commission on Indigenous People for this.
“The manipulation of government processes by the NCIP for obtaining free, prior and informed consent (from affected communities) has caused human rights violations and divisions in indigenous communities targeted by the project,” the CPA said in a statement released to media.
CPA cited the case in Guinanaang, Pasil, where, aside from Chevron, the Makilala Mining Company and the Cordillera Exploration Inc. also have plans to undertake large-scale mining.
Ama Longan of Kalinga’s Taloctoc sub-tribe and a veteran of the anti-Chico dam struggle, said the situation today remains unchanged since the days they resisted the dictator’s plans.
He said the battle for the land and their way of life often extends into their culture and social systems, noting how foreign corporations have exploited their “bodong” (peace pact) system to work around opposition to their incursions.
Longan says it was also the bodong that helped unify the Kalinga and Bontoks in opposing the Chico dams project.
“A higher level of unity was achieved as a result,” Longan said and, because of this, they were able to adopt a provision to exclude from coverage by the bodong villagers who joined state forces and worked for the construction of the dams.
“We cannot do less, and we continue to be inspired by the legacy of Kayaw”, the CPA statement said.
"You ask if we own the land. You mock us. Where is your title? Where are the documents to prove that you own the land? Title. Documents. Proof. Such arrogance of owning land when you are owned by it. How can you own that which outlives you? Only the people own the land because only the people live forever. To claim a place is the birthright of everyone. The lowly animals claim their place, how much more of human beings. They are born to live," spoke Macliing, when asked about land titles and documents.” - Macliing Dulag