Recent talk about federalism and localism makes it absolutely necessary to talk about the right for self-determination, not only from the perspective of local governance but also within the framework of national emancipation from imperialist plunder.
Soon after Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he tried to build four huge dams along the Chico river to be funded by the World Bank. At the same time he awarded 200,000 hectares of forest land to the Cellophil Resources Corporation as a logging and paper pulp concession to his crony Herminio Disini. These were so-called priority “development projects” of the Marcos dictatorship throughout the dark years of martial law. In defense of indigenous life, ancestral land and cultural integrity, the Kalinga and Bontok people waged sustained struggles against the construction of the Chico dams, followed soon after by Tinggian opposition to the Cellophil Resources Corporation.
These indigenous peoples of Bontok, Kalinga and Abra, considered by many as among the most neglected and powerless sectors of Philippine society, were able to stop the development aggression against fearsome odds, by asserting their collective human rights to ancestral land and…
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