BAUKO, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE – Since its creation as an administrative region more than three decades ago, Cordillera’s quest to become an autonomous region could finally come into fruition. The Office of the
Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) has been at the forefront of efforts to urge President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to declare as urgent the passage of an organic act creating the
Cordillera Autonomous Region.
Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr, who led here on Tuesday the commemoration of the 36th Mt. Data Peace Accord, also known as “Sipat,” vowed to support the grassroots-led initiative to
realize the Cordilleran peoples’ dream of an autonomous region. “It is best if the initiative comes from the people of the Cordillera because you will decide it. It is time for us to have that (Cordillera autonomy),”
Galvez said in his remarks.
The peace adviser said he is hoping that the plebiscite to ratify the organic act for Cordillera’s autonomy will be held midway during the Marcos administration. “The Mt. Data Peace Accord is on the same day as
his (Marcos) birthday. It is not a coincidence but destiny. Maybe this time, we can have that destiny for the Cordillera,” Galvez said. On September 13, 1986, the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) forged a “sipat” (cessation of hostilities) with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) at the Mt.
Data Hotel here. The peace agreement, which was a historic first for the Philippine peace process, became known as the Mt. Data Peace Accord. In accordance with the tradition and customs of the region, the two sides exchanged “allasiw” (peace tokens) to signify their sincerity and commitment to the peace agreement. CPLA leader Conrado Balweg gave a traditional spear and shield to President Corazon Aquino, who reciprocated the mementos with a rifle, Christian Bible and rosary.
The peace accord led to formal negotiations between the GPH and CPLA, which would be instrumental in the inclusion of the creation of an autonomous region for the Cordillera in the 1987 Constitution. On July 15, 1987, the government issued Executive Order No. 220 which created the Cordillera Administrative
Region, a transitory region pending the passage and ratification of an autonomous organic law. “With the positive events happening in the Bangsamoro (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), we are very optimistic that Cordilleran autonomy will be realized,” Galvez said Galvez.