Cordi seeks holiday to remember Fr Balweg’s peace pact with gov’t

BANGUED, ABRA – Remembering the first peace agreement entered into by the government during the time of former President Corazon Aquino with rebel priest Conrado Balweg will remind the Cordillerans of the many historic events that came after and to serve as a reminder that peace can be achieved by talking.
Engr. Andres Ngao-I, President of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA), who was a young peace advocate who served as secretariat when President Cory and Fr. Balweg signed the agreement in September 13, 1986 at Mt. Data, Bauko in Mountain Province said it is just fitting to recognize the importance of the Mt. Data Sipat (peace) agreement which led to the peace accord between the Cordilleran warriors led by Fr. Conrado Balweg who were fighting the government and defending the rights of the highlanders to their ancestral land. 
He said “The Cordillera region was created because of the peace pact and it is just proper that we also remember the date by making it a holiday,” Ngao-I said.
As member of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera representing the private sector, Ngao-i raised the proposal for the region’s highest policy making body to request Malacañang Palace to declare September 13 as a holiday in recognition of the historic events that took place on that day, over 30 years ago, in preparation for next year’s commemoration.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Ngao-i explained that it was in September 13, 1986 when the first peace agreement in the whole country under the Cory administration took place. That peace agreement led to the creation of the Cordillera region. It was the reason former President Cory issued Executive Order 220 creating the temporary Cordillera Administrative Region in preparation for its becoming autonomous composed of Abra, Apayao, Baguio, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain province and recently with the recent inclusion of Tabuk City, Kalinga comprising the Cordillera Administrative Region in preparation of its becoming autonomous.
It also led to the inclusion of the provision in the 1986 Constitution which mandates the creation of autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures and other relevant characteristics within the framework of the Constitution, the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country.
Baguio City mayor and RDC chairman Mauricio Domogan expressed full support to the proposal to declare September 8 as a special holiday in the Cordillera.
Former rebel priest Father Conrado Balweg led the CBA and the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) that broke away from the CPP-NPA-NDF, to pursue a different path, a non-violent peaceful path which led to the Mt. Data Sipat peace accord with the government, as a prelude to the establishment of a “Bodong” (peace agreement). The CBA-CPLA until the present has transformed from a rebel group to peace advocates, a vanguard of peace and guarantor of the Cordillera Bodong.
“It was in September 13, 1986 when the Cordillera as a region was born and it should be made special by declaring it a special holiday to allow the region’s people to remember the day when the six provinces and one city became a region and when former rebel Father Balweg and his group laid down their arms to embrace peace with the government.”
He also said that highlighting the existence of a successful peace agreement that the government had with Cordillera warriors who were fighting the government and defending the rights of Cordillerans to their ancestral land is a recognition that indeed, peace can be attained and can again be achieved with other groups under the administration of President Duterte whose leadership is anchored on building peace in the country. LIZA AGOOT / ABN

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