n July 15, 1987, then President Cory Aquino signed an Executive Order which created the Cordillera Autonomous Region, as a product of the 1986 peace pact (sipat) in Mt. Data between the government and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, a detached group of NPAs who finally found the light as they realized the deception that the CPP-NPA-NDF brought to their lives, and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, April 24 marks the death of a Kalinga hero Ama Macliing Dulag who persistently fought for the rights of their tribe during the Martial Law era. While we as Cordillerans value both significant events, it would be ambiguous and confusing to celebrate two (2) Cordillera Days with April 24 celebration being spearheaded by groups that did nothing but demonize the government while not having the audacity to condemn rebels who have long tied the country into violence and poverty.

These groups bank on the death of Ama Macliing Dulag on said date to celebrate their version of Cordillera Day to portray they honor the said hero’s martyrdom and call on the IPs to follow his example. They use the name of Ama Dulag and other heroes such as Pedro Dungoc to fool the Cordillerans into believing that they are champions of IP rights since the poor Cordillerans cannot fight for their lands and lives.

Celebrations have often centered on calling for justice of IPs whom they claimed are victims of oppressions and displacement. But they never demanded the same for IPs who were abused and killed by the NPAs. They have done this in the past 38 years of celebrating their Cordillera Day every 24th of April, which by the way, is also the founding anniversary of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

This year will be their 39th time of putting up such misleading Cordillera Day celebration with events organized in the provinces apart from Baguio City and as far as Canada, the US and Hongkong. We can expect the same portrayal of fake IP rights advocates that turn a blind eye on true gruesome stories of abuses of an internationally-recognized terrorist group. We live a are far democratic and civilized society today, therefore, are more than capable of fighting for our rights.

We are more informed now, and aware of the legitimate Cordillera Day; hence, we should not allow such groups to be meddling with our history by distorting established and known facts about our Region. July 15 is the true Cordillera Day and there is no other Cordillera Day.

By: Cristina Catbagan
Chairperson, Nagkakaisang Samahan para sa Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran (NSKK)

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