Press release

December 4, 2014

With the theme “Affirm the role of elders for the defense of land and resources for future generations”, at least 60 elders belonging to the Movement for the Advancement of Inter-Tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD) convened in Bontoc, Mt. Province for their 3rd Congress recently.

Fr. Pablo Buyagan, Coordinator of Cordillera Elders Alliance (CEA), in his discussion on the role of elders stated that “We should value life and all that sustains life. The defense of life, land and resources is tantamount to our survival as people and communities. The destruction of our lands and resources would rob the future generations the means for survival. As elders, this is a great consciousness that made us lived even today and it is our obligation to pass to the next generation.”

Fr. Buyagan went to share some important roles of elders in mobilizing and forging unity among different tribes and communities during the Chico dam and Cellophil struggles. He emphasized that the victories of these struggles secured the present generation. “But time and again, as elders, we see the continuing threats against our resources by large and destructive corporations. With this situation, we cannot just close our eyes. We need to actively participate in all aspects of local struggles in our communities to defend our resources against destruction,” added Fr. Buyagan.

The congress also highlighted the important role of elders in peace building among tribes and communities. The elders denounce tribal war among tribes but also accepted the fact that there still intertribal tensions and conflicts brought about by land and boundary disputes; anti-social activities and other causes. Fr. Buyagan also linked that entry of destructive projects resulted to tensions among communities. With their accumulated wisdom and experience, the elders’ role in conflict mediation and resolution can help in administering justice that is fair and acceptable to all.

The two-day congress identified key areas for capacity building activities to strengthen and broaden their organization. Among others, the elders vowed to organize more members to their organization to include women and emerging community leaders. The elders also accepted the urgency to pass the knowledge; culture and tradition to the younger generation to instill the values of defense, promotion and nurturing of life, land and resources.

Mr. Martin Bacgalang, an elder from Sagada is elected as the new chairperson of MAITUD. The 3rd congress was held at the Bp. Longid Hill, ENDP Building, Bontoc, Mt. province in November 27-28, 2014. MAITUD is a member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) chapter in Mountain Province.

For reference:

Elvira Taguba

Cordillera Elders Alliance