By SIMON NAOGSAN (Ka Filiw)
Spokesperson, Cordillera People’s Democratic Front
The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and kakailians of the late Atty. William “Billy” Claver who passed away last 15 December. An Igorot lawyer worthy of emulation, the courage and heroism of Atty. Claver was fully tested during the darkest years of martial law. He stood up together with a handful of fellow human rights lawyers then, alongside the oppressed people in opposing the US-Marcos dictatorship.
As a civil libertarian, Claver took the path less taken and fraught with dangers where others dared not tread, taking up the cudgels of the victims of martial law. Among the historic cases he handled were the murder of Ama Macliing Dulag and the attempted killing of Pedro Dungoc perpetrated by AFP troops led by Army Lt. Leogardo Adalem. These two Kalinga leaders were among other pangats who led their tribes and dared to stand up against the US-Marcos dictatorship’s attempt to submerge hundreds of thousands of hectares of ancestral lands and displace thousands of Bontoc and Kalinga indigenous people residing along the Chico River Dam Projects.
Together with Attys. Jose W. Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada, Claver pursued the case until the conviction of the murderers. Other cases include the illegal arrest and detention of activists, among others a doctor in Nueva Vizcaya, and many other cases involving political detainees.
Likewise, as a professional coming from the ranks of the national minorities, Billy Claver is truly an advocate of people’s rights especially the downtrodden and the marginalized who devoutly utilized his knowledge and skills in the service of his fellow Igorots in asserting their rights as national minorities for equality and against national oppression.
He actively participated in the people’s mass movement that championed their democratic rights and liberation. He was a founding member and served as the chairman of the progressive Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) during its formative years that advocated the right to self-determination and defense of life, land and resources of national minorities in the Cordillera.
As a lawmaker representing Kalinga in the post US-Marcos dictatorship, Billy Claver used his representation as a venue to continue in articulating the aspirations of the national minorities for their democratic rights.
The CPDF calls on all lawyers to emulate the life and ideals of Atty. Billy Claver, and for all Igorot professionals in the academe, health sector, government, media and other professions to immerse themselves in the struggles of the oppressed and the exploited, especially their fellow national minorities. Claver’s life is an inspiration to all law students, young lawyers and budding advocates especially among the national minorities.
Claver belongs to the ranks of progressive elders who stood up united before against the mighty and powerful, and who will continue to stand up against all forms of oppression and exploitation.
Although he did not live to witness the fruition of the Cordillera peoples’ aspiration for self-determination and equality as with the rest of other revolutionary martyrs when final triumph of the National Democratic Revolution shall have been achieved, but for sure his memory will inspire young lawyers and professionals especially among the national minorities, the rest of the Cordillera peoples and the broad Filipino people to carry on the torch of his advocacy.
Long live the memory of Atty. Billy Claver!
Carry forward the fight for self-determination against national oppression in the Cordilleras!
Defend the Cordillera ancestral lands, life and resources!
Long live the Filipino people’s National Democratic Revolution!