BAGUIO CITY (July 12, 2023)

Original members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) are vigorously urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to rethink its position of recognizing a pseudo group that has sprung from nowhere and had been using the group to propel their own personal and political ends. Former Bucloc mayor Mailed Molina, chairman of the CPLA, questioned where former Abra vice-governor and ex Boliney town mayor Ronald Balao-as and a certain Henry Tan got their “moral ascendancy” to wield leadership to the group, insisting they never were members in the first place.

Molina and slain rebel priest Conrado Balweg, broke ranks with the New Peoples Army in 1986, formed the CPLA that pushed government to recognize the Cordillera as a region via Executive Order 220 signed by then former Pres. Corazon Aquino in July 15, 1986. In recent months,  a new set of officers of the Cordillera Bodong Administration, the political arm of the CPLA took oath before Kalinga governor James Edduba in Tabuk City instituting Tan as CBA chairman and Balao-as as CPLA regional chief.

Disturbed by such events,  Molina branding Tan and Balao-as as pseudo leaders said, Pres. Marcos Jr. should know the historical fact and follow the peace agreement with the CPLA forged at Mt. Data Hotel in 1986 that ended hostilities with the CPLA. After the Mt. Data agreement,  the CPLA fought side-by-side with the government against the NPA.  Some members of the CPLA had also been integrated into the Armed Forces and CAFGU, while some received livelihood grants.

Government must worry against these pseudo group,  Molina said, ‘because they are being used as goons of politicians flaunting the name of the CPLA as cover’. Molina believed his group is the only faction recognized by the Defense and the Interior departments, while vigorously urging the national government to look into certain groups using the CPLA to forwards their selfish interests.

Meanwhile,  Molina issued a memorandum to all officers and members of the CPLA and CBA to celebrate the 36th founding anniversary of the signing of EO 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region in their areas of jurisdiction all over the 6 provinces in the region. President Marcos Jr. declared July 15, 2023, a non-working in CAR marking the signing of EO 220 via Proclamation No. 250 issued on June 5, 2023 designating the “Cordillera Day” celebration,  as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Cordilleran people,”

Marcos Jr. via Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin added,  “it is but fitting and proper that the people of the Cordillera Administrative Region be given full opportunity to participate in the occasion and enjoy the celebration.” As the people of the Cordillera Administrative Region prepare to celebrate the 36th anniversary of their foundation, it is a time for reflection on their rich history and anticipation of a bright future for the region, Marcos Jr. added.

Artemio A. Dumlao

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