Thank you for having invited me to attend this first ACPE. Cordillera people from different walks of life and viewpoints came from different countries in Europe together here to discuss amongst others, the situation in the Cordillera.
It is not always easy to come to a common analysis and viewpoint. The sometimes heavy discussions this morning have demonstrated this. But it is good that people with different ideas and points of view discuss with each other in an open way in order to try to come to a shared opinion on important issues and problems.
We all know that the Cordillera, both the land and its peoples, is facing serious challenges and problems. And these problems will not disappear or even diminish in the near future. On the contrary, they will become bigger and bigger. Mining companies, energy companies, logging companies, agro-businesses and others are more and more encroaching into the Cordillera, destroying the land and the people. And the attitude of the Philippine Government towards the Cordillera isn’t friendly as well. So there is need for a strong solidarity.
Therefore, I think that this first ACPE was a useful contribution in getting people from the Cordillera living abroad, uniting to defend the interests of the Cordillera. There is still much work to do if we consider the challenges. But I hope and I’m confident that you will be able to continue in this direction. The coming Igorot International Consultation may be a next occasion to build further on what has been discussed and decided here. The Cordillera, both the land and its peoples, need your support now more than ever.
Thank you once more for inviting me here and thank you also for sharing the joy and happiness that was present here as well.
In Solidarity, Johan Bosman, on behalf of KWIA, Merelbeke, April 21, 2002.