50 years since Marcos dictatorship, Lumads continue to fight for their rights

Oct. 02, 2022

Photo from Katribu’s Facebook page

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The country’s Lumads are still decrying the abuses inflicted on their tribe members fifty years ago, after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declared martial law on September 21, 1972.

“Victims of human rights violations are yet to receive an apology from the Marcoses and justice yet to be served”, said the Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), an indigenous peoples (IP) group, in a statement.

Katribu said they have witnessed how the late dictator’s regime used its power to torture and silence staunch critics of his administration.

“Marcos Sr. and his cronies committed grave human rights violations and rampant corruption with flamboyance and grand edifices. The Marcoses left the country in debt and the Filipino people poorer than ever,” it added.

Abuses, resistance

IPs were subjected to massacres and other human rights violations throughout the martial law, Katibu said. One major record it shared, is the violation against the Subanon people, an incident now called the Tudela massacre.

On August 24, 1981, members of a Marcos-sponsored paramilitary forces strafed the house of a Subanon family, the Gumapons, in Sitio Gitason, Barrio Lampasan, Tudela, Misamis Occidental. Ten were killed, including a baby.

The Marcos administration appropriated indigenous lands, particularly the Chico River Dam Project and the Manila Water Supply III project on the Kaliwa River watershed, and its all-out giveaway of forest lands for political patronage.

Proved to be a threat to their life, livelihood, and culture, the Chico River Dam Project was met with strong opposition by various Igorot people, notably the Kalinga people.

“The 1984 killing of Macliing Dulag, a pangat (leader) and spokesperson of the opposition created public outrage. The murder of Macliing unified the Cordillera people to resist the proposed dam, causing both the World Bank and the Marcos regime to eventually abandon the project,” Katribu said.

The incident also became a turning point in the history of martial law. For the first time since the press crackdown in 1972, journalists and the mainstream Philippine press confronted the issue of the military’s arrests of civilians under martial law.

“It is now considered a landmark case study concerning ancestral domain issues in the Philippines,” the group said.

The indigenous Dumagat, Remontado Agta who lived in the Kaliwa watershed were most affected and opposed the dam project. They first appealed to the Marcos administration to stop the construction.

But when Marcos refused, they “responded with intense social mobilization over many years”, with tactics including protests, road blockades, and other approaches including taking arms and joining the New Peoples’ Army.

Under the dictator’s rule, resistance movements flourished but varied from case to case among the different tribes of the Philippines.

Feeding the allies

Katribu said ancestral lands and natural resources were used for political patronage and enrichment of Marcos cronies and allies.

“The dictator rewards friends and family with Timber License Agreements or TLAs, the instrument used to operate concessions to harvest trees on vast tracks of ancestral lands, such as those awarded to cronies Alcantara and Sons (ALSONS) and David M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI),” it said.

Timber concessions soared during the Marcos years, from 58 in 1969 to 471 in 1976. Concessions go beyond 100,000 hectares or above the typical 40,000 to 60,000 hectares.

Continuing to resist

The Marcoses are back in top government positions with Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. holding the highest office as the country’s 17th president.

With another Marcos in power, Katribu said they will continue to resist whatever policies the present administration will implement that would be detrimental to the rights of the IPs everywhere.

“We have seen and experienced martial law and dictatorship before. Just as we have never forgotten the atrocities of the Marcoses, and the Dutertes, we shall never be silenced by any threats against our right to live with dignity,” Katribu said.

The group said several IPs also became victims of human rights abuses during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s six-year term or from 2016 to 2022.

“The Duterte camp should also be held accountable for the victims of their atrocities. Moreover, those destructive projects which faced resistance during Marcos Sr.’s martial law are now positioned to continue despite massive opposition”, the group added. (davaotoday.com)

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