INPS International Network for Philippine Studies

The continuing relevance and the need for revolutionary struggle of the national minorities in the present time

Cordillera People’s Democratic Front

Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan Sr.
Spokesperson, Cordillera People’s Democratic Front
March 21, 2019

The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front conveys its utmost solidarity to the New People’s Army in celebration of its golden anniversary on March 29 of this year. Despite all the muck hurled by the succeeding puppet regimes, the revolutionary armed struggle being waged by NPA under the guidance of the Communist Party of the Philippines has succeeded in being the beacon of hope for all the oppressed and exploited people in the entire country.  

In the Cordillera, the role of the revolutionary struggle in advancing the struggle of the national minorities for self determination and democracy has been undeniable. Since the first NPA unit set foot in Ifugao in 1971, it rapidly expanded across the six provinces of the Cordillera. By the last part of the 1970s, it has taken root among the various indigenous tribes of the Cordillera. Undertaking painstaking mass work, social investigation and study of the particular situation of the national minorities in the region and correct mass line has been the key in waging the revolution in this mountainous land. Its correct grasp of the particularity of the national minority struggle for self-determination and democracy has been sharpened through relentless practice. The revolutionary movement was also the first to study the history and the circumstances that brought national oppression as the particular problem burdening the people of the Cordillera. This particular and continuing study gave fruition to documents such as the Special Mass Course on the national minorities of the Cordillera, the Constitution and By-Laws and the 10 Points Program of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front. 

The Chico River (Source: Baguio Hearld Express)

The Chico Dam and Cellophil struggles were among the first breakthroughs on the tyrannical martial rule of the Marcos dictatorship. These struggles, together with the various mass campaigns carried on in the different Cordillera provinces including the border areas of Ilocos Sur, such as the anti-mining struggles, the reclaiming of the so-called Marcos Park at Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet; the anti-tribal campaigns; the Regionalization and Beyond among others, strengthened the people’s resolve to steadfastly defend their land and resources against landgrabbers and aggressors who wants to plunder ancestral lands in the name of so-called ‘development.’ They warmly embraced the NPA as their true army against the reactionary mercenaries of the state.  If not for the hard and spirited struggles waged by the national minorities with the help of the people’s army to protect the ancestral land, the Cordillera would have long been gone. 

The Cordillera youth, professionals, religious sector and the like also played a role in propagating the national-democratic revolution and in exposing the injustices against the national minorities, among them the anti-Grand Canao protests and open protest against discrimination on Igorots. A significant number of Cordillera youth from the cities and the countryside joined the NPA as they realized that the place of the youth is in the struggle to defend the land and secure a better future. The advance of the armed struggle in the Cordillera has been one of the most resonant in the whole Northern Luzon during the second half of the 1980s. The breakaway of the traitor faction of Conrado Balweg’s Cordillera People’s Liberation Army has not hampered the expansion of the NPA’s ranks. 

The revolutionary armed struggle of the national minorities in Cordillera has taken its peak with the founding of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front in 1981 onwards.  Since then, it has forged the bond among the various tribes and sectors to unite in the fight for their welfare and ultimately, for the freedom of the whole country. The CPDF has also been instrumental in building the first organs of political power in far-flung parts of the Cordillera, places that have long been forsaken and neglected by the reactionary government. Through the formations of the Village and Municipal Council of Leaders in the different municipalities, the people for the first time experienced true democratic political power. The positive experiences derived from this have shown the Manila-based puppet government that the people can govern themselves. It is this power that shook their core and pushed them to use all their imperialist-given resources to use excessive force against the people. 

At present, many challenges have to be faced. The continuing destruction and plunder of Cordillera’s ancestral lands has also brought the increasing erosion of our traditional socio-political systems and culture. In order to have unbridled control over the land and resources of the Cordillera, an all-sided offensive against the people of the Cordillera have been unleashed. Cordillera politicians have renewed efforts to push for the bogus Cordillera autonomy, buoyed up by the recent build-up of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Agricultural backwardness still prevails, made even worse by government neglect. Indigenous culture have also been commodified, as evidenced by the growing number of tourism-driven and profit-motivated festivals sprouting in every province down to the barangay levels. The rotten imperialist culture is propagated, especially among Cordillera youth for the purpose of obliterating the militant tradition of the Cordillera people and make them docile purveyors of bourgeois-decadent culture. To silence the people’s opposition to projects such as large-scale mining, dams and energy projects, increasing militarization and psywar efforts have targeted communities and progressive organizations of farmers, women and youth.  To veer them away from the path of struggle and break the unity of the tribes, Cordillera youth and farmers are being led to being paid mercenaries of the state through conscripting them to the military and paramilitary service. Indigenous socio-political systems such as the dap-ay and bodong are also being debased to serve in the government’s counter-insurgency programs, which has brought disunity among the communities. 

Despite the vilifications and demonization attacks of the Duterte regime, the NPA is deeply respected and cherished by the national minorities of the Cordillera due to the fact that it has shown its principled consciousness and utmost commitment in fighting for the people’s interest and welfare. The people still cannot forget up to present how the NPA waged its campaign against anti-social activities such as gambling, robberies and cattle-rustling in the communities. The NPA has also facilitated the peaceful resolution of many inter-tribal conflicts, in contrast to the AFP’s incitement of many tribal disputes resulting to tribal wars. The NPA also waged agrarian campaigns among the communities. And most of all, only the NPA has steadfastly been with the Cordillera people through the years in its struggle to defend the land and its resources against plunderous and destructive projects of big compradors and imperialists. Punitive actions such as the one launched against the mining giant Philex Mining Company last February 2017 and against the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company are expressions of this continuing commitment.

The CPDF is one with the CPP and NPA in carrying on the fight for freedom and national democracy. The CPDF firmly believes that only through the total victory of the national-democratic revolution and the subsequent socialist revolution can the right to self-determination and democracy of the national minorities be fully achieved. While the armed revolution is still being waged at present, the CPDF shall continue to be at the forefront of the national minorities fight against national oppression and the three basic problems of imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism. The CPDF shall continue its tasks that are integrated with the three main tasks of the NPA in the vast countryside, which are education, base building and agrarian revolution. In addition, the CPDF commits itself in enlightening more people, especially the Cordillera youth on the pressing issues of the country and encouraging them to take part in the people’s struggles. For the people’s army is the true bastion of strength and the true soldiers of the people. 

Long live the New People’s Army!
Love and cherish the people’s army!
Carry on the revolution forward until victory!

INPS International Network for Philippine Studies

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