CPLA military integration of Cordillera peace process now completed
PIA | GAMU, Isabela -- Officials from government and local government units, tribal elders, civil society organizations and representatives from the various sectors gathered at the 5th Infantry Division headquarters here on November 9 to witness the signing of the joint declaration of the successful completion of the Army integration component of Cordillera peace process as provided by Executive Order no. 49 (EO 49) issued by President Benigno Aquino III in 2011.
Signing in behalf of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army-Cordillera Bodong Administration (CPLA-CBA) was CBA Chairperson Ms. Marcelina G. Bahatan and 5ID Commander MGen Lysander A. Suerte for the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP).
A total of 168 CPLA members have been integrated into the AFP as part of the 2011 Memorandum of Agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines and the CPLA-CBA towards the CPLA’s final disposition of arms and forces and its transformation into a potent socio-economic unarmed force known as the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development, Inc.
EO 49 which was subsequently issued by Aquino mandated the cooperation of all concerned government agencies in the implementation of the 2011 MOA or the Closure Agreement to the Mt. Data Peace Accord or Sipat. The Department of National Defense and the AFP were tasked to wind down programs under Administrative Order no. 18 series of 2001, including the Army integration and livelihood programs for the former Cordillera rebel group.
It could be recalled CPLA commander, the late Fr. Conrado Balweg signed a ceasefire agreement with the late former President Corazon C. Aquino in September 1986 in what is known as the Mt. Data Peace Accord or Sipat.
According to Suerte, the 168 CPLA members who are integrated into the regular force are composed of 120 members provided under EO 49 while 48 are substitutes to the closure of CPLA livelihood program, in accordance with Administrative Order 18 as amended by the Longayban Agreement.
Most of the integrated members are now assigned in the different areas of responsibility of the 5 ID which include the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela in Region 2, the Cordillera provinces and the some provinces in Mindanao.
On Monday, at least 54 sons and daughters of former CPLA rebels or their next of kin paraded the grounds of the 5th ID, Bahatan said.
Philippine Army Chief LTGen. Eduardo Ano, represented by BGen. Raul Farnacio, welcomed the sons and daughters of the CPLA who have successfully completed the military training to the Philippine Army and to the AFP.
He said that after so much hard work and reorientation towards the new way of life of the CPLA members, they are now becoming true Philippine military professionals in service to the country and the Filipino people.
In her keynote message, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles stressed that the closure agreement of the CBA-CPLA is not putting a closure to the 1986 Sipat nor is putting a closure to the pursuit of regional autonomy in the Cordillera region.
“We would like to clarify that the closure agreement does not put an end to ‘sipat’ and it does not put an end to the dream of autonomy; on the contrary it seeks to fulfill sipat,”said Deles.
“What it puts an end to is the existence of the CPLA as an armed group,” she stressed.
She added that with the closure, the CPLA is no longer an armed group with a command structure that has commanders as leaders and combatants as members but as a potent socio-economic unarmed force that can directly improve the lives of their communities and their families and influence the pace and direction of the development as well as the state of democratic governance in the Cordillera.
Regional Peace and Order Council chairman IIfugao Governor Denis Habawel also stressed that there is a need to put a closure to the CPLA so that the region can move on to the pursuit of regional autonomy.
Habawel said that with the fulfillment of peace in the region, the aspirations of regional autonomy will be the next step and will be Reasier with the help of all the Cordillerans.
Tribal leaders and respected officials of the CBA-CPLA led the cultural ceremonies and traditional rituals to this momentous event.