Keynote Speech of PAPP Jesus G. Dureza
Delivered by OPAPP Director Susan Marcaida
For the 29th Cordillera Day Celebration
Baguio Convention Center, Baguio City
15 July 2016
The honorable members of the House of Representatives, governors, vice governors, mayors, vice mayors, members of the councils—both city and municipal, members of the Sanggunian, representatives from different line agencies headed by their respective regional directors, greetings of peace!
It is my privilege and honor that I deliver with you today the message of Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
It is auspicious that one of the first events to be attended by the new administration’s peace process office is in the Cordillera. History tells us that the region was one of the first to teach the country and the world how talking peace looks like and that it is possible.
This legacy of peacemaking was what government’s engagement with the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA) and the former Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), now the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development, Inc., has tried to honor. Our partnership has tried to put an honorable end to the army that has once defended and upheld the rights of the generation that started the struggle for self-determination and autonomy.
At the same time, we continue to acknowledge that there are many others, not just the CBA-CPLA, who has contributed to the region’s peace history. The Cordillerans can be proud that you are the ones who first proved that the pursuit of an ideal is possible under a democratic political climate – that a legitimate grievance can be addressed without the need for arms and violent conflict.
Cordillera has indeed come a long way, from being a collection of provinces separated into two political regions, to fighting the abuses of the Martial Law, to struggling within the tribal and ethnolinguistic differences that continuously divide communities, to dealing with the decisions of politicians which did not always address the needs of the people, and to finding its own place as one region united in distinct culture and lifeways, charting its own journey and destiny.
Today, we commemorate and celebrate the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) 29 years ago. The creation of the CAR was premised in the preparation for an eventual autonomous region. Though the bid for autonomy may have failed, it remains a legitimate advocacy of the region and its peoples.
At this point, allow me to reiterate the centerpiece of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign, which is the shift from a unitary to a federal form of government. You may ask: How is this relevant to the Cordillera Administrative Region and your bid for autonomy? It is relevant because federalism mirrors the purpose of autonomy, which is to have a greater local power and access to resources for the region. If the President’s campaign succeeds and the Filipino nation wills it, this change in system can effectively address what the Cordillerans have been advocating all along.
Of course, this change of government and system is the work of everyone and not the President alone. I would recommend for all Cordillerans to study the President’s proposal, talk to your legislators on how the region can best benefit from it, and participate in the democratic exercise whether it may be through a Constitutional Assembly or Constitutional Convention.
We are in a new administration and hopes are high that the change we have been waiting for has finally arrived. I will, however, add, that for change to be substantial and enduring it requires the collective effort of all. As the Cordillerans have exhibited time and again, change is never easy. One thing this new administration can ensure to everyone is that—in the end, and with the help of the people—it will all be worth it.
Again, good morning. Agyaman kami unay (thank you very much!). Salamat po!