February 5, 2023

Beware of groups claiming to be defenders of IPs in the Cordillera

The United Nations General assembly through Resolution 49-214 dated Dec. 23, 1994 has marked Aug. 9 as International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples with the objective to raise awareness on the needs of the IPs around the globe.

Celebrating the World IP Day surely provides venue for us in the Cordillera to also promote our rich culture and tradition, and the need for these to be properly recognized by the government.

It is for this reason that a militant group has invited the public to join its activity in line with the commemoration of the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on Aug. 6.

In its social media post prior to the event, this group claimed that its celebration will include roundtable discussions on the #DefendCordilleraPH campaign on Aug.6 to 7 and IP Day mobilization on Aug. 9.

While the activities of this group seem relevant and consistent with the celebration, may we all be reminded of how this group has been hijacking Cordillera events to the point of holding its own Cordillera Day celebration every April 24 when the true and legitimate Cordillera Day is observed every 15th of July.

For years, this group and its allies have monopolized the claim of championing IP rights in the Cordillera, which they project during their so-called Cordillera Day and the observance of the World IP Day.

Their activities during these days are full of agitation over their allegations against the government being neglectful or worse oppressive of the IPs.

Thus, they turn IP events from information awareness into lamentation and litany of their complaints on issues that are already being addressed such as dialogues with IPs on use of resources in ancestral domains, among others.

Let us not allow these militants groups to ruin this year’s IP Day with their rehashed statements that are designed to solicit sympathy and deceive the people in the region.

Cordillerans can hold their own well-meaning celebration. After all, the day is about us, our history, and our struggle.

It is not about whatever political agenda these groups have. — MA. LOUISA FOLIGAN, spokesperson, Samahan ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa Kontra Terrorismo

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