Another victim of the CPP-NPA?
Beatrice “Betty” Belen a member of Innabuyog Kalinga and former regional vice chairman of Innabuyog-Gabriela was arrested for Illegal possession of firearms by virtue of an issued search warrant. Meanwhile, alliances of this group said it was a trumped-up charges.
I will not write about Ms Belen’s personal life for the whole length of this piece, Instead, I would like to recount some incidents that happened at Sitio Ag-agama, Western Uma, Lubuagan Kalinga the place of Ms Belen and the stand of her affiliated organizations about these events.
In 2016 the members of the Innabuyog-Kalinga led by Betty clamored and demanded the pull out of government forces due to alleged militarization in the place. They also opposed the establishment of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit or CAFGU detachment in the area, but, despite the opposition of this group the patrol base was established and some of the civilians were enlisted as CAFGUs without any compulsion. The group also opposed the development of a geothermal project in the area, even though the Free Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC of the Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Cultural Communities was issued as a requirement before these companies could start and enter ancestral domain. Also, in 2006, the so-called Cordillera day was held here, organized by the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) which was recently branded by some Kalinga tribes as an activity for personal gain and advancement. The latest was in 2018; when thirty members of the New People’s Army attacked the patrol base resulting in the death of Sgt Elon Bayang, the wounding of three CAFGU personnel and the seizure of several firearms and ammunitions. Moreover, the place is identified as election hotspots, that according to existing laws, it is identified based on their history of election-related violence and incidents and the influence of the NPA rebels in the place.
Are these events are just coincidences? Why there is a need to establish an army detachment in the area and why this group of Belen protested it? Why opposed a development project and say it will destruct the lands without presenting any proof? Did the group condemn the indiscriminate attacks of the NPA in the place that killed a Binodngan and wounding of their own kakailians? The CPP-NPA obviously disregards the well-being of the people and performed hostile activities within the barangay but this group remains silent. Does the CPP-NPA have a control over the organization and the territory?
Is there a link between Belen and her so-called progressive organization to the CPP-NPA or are they just victims of CPP-NPA’s agitation, organization-mobilization scheme in order to sustain their manipulations, influence and exploitation of the Indigenous Peoples in the far flung communities? If so, the rebels are good at scanning their prey; they are not mistaken in choosing Betty because she is brave, intelligent and an eloquent woman. I will leave this to you to reflect on and connect the dots.
To my peace loving Kakailians victims or not, let us unite together in denouncing and condemning the CPP-NPA. Let us support the government efforts in the name of peace and development.