BAGUIO CITY – The oldest and most widespread grassroots organization advocating indigenous peoples’ rights in northern Luzon, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), is holding is 10th congress since it was established in June 1984.
The CPA traces its origins to the popular resistance launched by the indigenous people against the World Bank-funded dams along the Chico River and to the popular protests against the destructive logging of the Cellophil Resources Corporation in Abra during the martial law years.
Supported by organizations from the church, of professionals and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) then headed by the late Senator Jose W. Diokno, the resistance against development aggression eventually gave birth to the CPA.
This was how Attorney William “Billy” Claver, former FLAG member and Kalinga congressman, recalled the origins of the CPA when he spoke at the opening ceremonies of the 10th congress. Claver was elected as founding chair of CPA in its first congress in Bontoc, Mt. Province on June 1984.
The 25-year history of CPA is “a source of pride and inspiration,” said Congressman Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna in his keynote address. He apprised the delegates of the challenges facing the peoples’ movement in the upcoming 2010 elections.
Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary-general of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance) updated the congress of indigenous peoples on developments in the national situation with special attention on the peoples’ vulnerabilities to natural and man-made disasters aggravated by the incompetence and unpreparedness of the government to such disasters.
The two-day congress ran from November 7 to 8 with delegates coming from various CPA provincial and city chapters and representatives from sectoral and service organizations that comprise the CPA. With the theme “Strengthen our ranks, resolutely fight for our ancestral domain, self-determination and national democracy”, the congress delegates drew-up a new three-year plan covering the period of 2010-2012.
Towards the end of the congress, a new set of officers was elected. The martyrs and heroes of the peoples movement in the Cordillera were also honored during the 10th congress. (Northern Dispatch)