Solidarity message on the 33rd Celebration of Cordillera Day

Balantoy, Balbalan, Kalinga
April 23 – 25, 2017

Photo Artemio A. Dumlao

In the name of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), I bring you red greetings on the occasion of the 33rd year of celebrating Cordillera Day.

This celebration has been held for the past three decades to bring to the fore the burning issues confronted by the Cordillera peoples and unite their ranks to enable them to firmly address these.

This year, the theme is on intensifying the struggle to advance the rights of the Cordillera peoples to self-determination and defend their ancestral lands, life and honor. The Cordillera peoples must step up the struggle against the massive seizure of their ancestral lands and natural resources by imperialists and the local exploiting classes, which further creates widespread poverty in the Cordillera and worsens the discrimination and abuse of its people.

The ongoing peace talks is very relevant to this year’s theme.

Currently, both parties – the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP – are forging a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms. An important part of the agreement being advanced by the NDFP is the particular section on the rights of national minorities. The section on national minorities was completed after special consultations with their representatives, including leaders of the Cordillera People’s Alliance which organized this celebration. We assure you that the NDFP Negotiating Panel will advance these proposals in the peace negotiations.

In the long term, the 10th point in the NDFP’s 12-Point Program calls for upholding the rights of the Bangsamoro and the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples to self-determination and democracy. Here, the NDFP declares its aspiration to build a Philippines where there is unity, equality and brotherhood of all peoples and nationalities and to forge a nation that is founded upon real independence from imperialism, democracy for the people, and genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro, the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples.

Genuine autonomy will be guaranteed within the framework of the people’s democratic republic of the Philippines, wherein the structure of government will ensure full participation and decisive say by the people of the autonomous areas on all matters affecting their lives, recognition of their right to ancestral land, priority in employment and economic opportunities, with returns from the economic development of their areas mainly accruing to them to hasten their social progress, while respecting their tradition and culture.

Thus, whether in the short or long term, on or outside of the negotiating table, the national-democratic revolution that the NDFP represents is advancing the interests of the Cordillera peoples.

It would be fine if the lives of the Cordillera peoples can be uplifted through the peace talks. But whatever is accomplished in the peace negotiations, your decisiveness to intensify your struggle for self-determination, ancestral land and honor will certainly pave a clear path towards the fulfillment of the great aspirations of the heroic peoples of the Cordillera.

Long live the Cordillera peoples!

FIDEL AGCAOILI
Chairman
NDFP Negotiating Panel