Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDisRDS) and Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) deeply mourn the passing of our long-time staff member Engineer Fidela “Delle” Bugarin Salvador, 50 years old, and mother of 3 children. On September 5, 2014, while on a working visit to Lacub, Abra as an independent consultant monitoring numerous socio-economic projects implemented by CorDisRDS, Delle was killed in the midst of ongoing military pursuit operations against revolutionary groups in the area. She was a civilian and a non-combatant, whose only commitment was to serve the marginalized and neglected communities of the Cordillera by bringing much needed socio-economic services. However, her dedication to her work and her willingness to travel to the remotest communities of the region cost her and her family her life.
It is a matter of grave concern that non-combatants – civilians and development workers, are killed in AFP military operations while extending much needed services to marginalized and neglected communities. Only a few are willing and able to brave the difficulties of development work in rural communities of the Cordillera. Delle’s death is a great loss not only for CorDisRDS, CDPC and the whole NGO community, but more so for the disadvantaged people whom she served.
Before starting her work with CorDisRDS in 2010, Delle, as an active church member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, worked for many years, first as a church youth and later church worker with GRASYA and later CEMAT. From 1990-2001, Delle worked with non-government organizations Mining Communities Development Center (MCDC) and Women Workers Program (WWP) as an organizer among the elders, women and youth in the mining communities of Itogon, Benguet who were affected by destructive open pit mining operations. In 2009, she went to Mankayan, Benguet as an organizer of Regional Development Center Katinnulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan of Northern Luzon (RDC-Kaduami-NL), organizing poor peasants for the Alyansa dagiti Pesante ti Taeng Kordilyera (APIT-Tako).
From 2010 – 2012, Delle worked with CorDisRDS to implement the Philippine Tropical Cyclone Emergency Response Project (PTCERP) and Philippine Tropical Cyclone Shelter and Livelihood Response Project, relief and livelihood projects for communities affected by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in the Cordillera and Ilocos regions. Among the services extended to disaster-stricken communities were shelter projects, irrigations systems, distribution of farm tools and many others. Starting 2013 to this date, Delle is a volunteer staff of CORDISRDS and CDPC for its organizing and socio-economic project monitoring works.
CorDis RDS and the CDPC network of NGOs condemn the death of our colleague and her hiking companions from beneficiary communities during AFP military operations. Their deaths add to the increasing loss of lives in Indigenous Peoples communities and human rights violations during the PNOY administration. And the ongoing military operations are putting many more lives in danger. We call for the withdrawal of military troops in the region and the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and revolutionary forces towards arriving at a just and lasting solution to the civil war going on in the country.***