BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — A major people’s organization in the Cordillera region debunked claims by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process that it had agreed to “unify” with other groups, particularly the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army “towards healing and reconciliation, as they strongly pushed for Cordillera autonomy as a step towards federalism.”
A statement released earlier by the OPAPP claimed “five major rebel factions and groups in Cordillera,” including the CPA, met at a forum on regional autonomy in Bauko, Mountain Province on Monday, April 24, which is Cordillera Day, and “jointly called on all Cordillerans to unite and rally behind efforts to establish the constitutionally mandated Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.”
The gathering was organized by the OPAPP, Cordillera Regional Development Council and the regional office of the National Economic and Development Authority and was attended by the CPLA, Cordillera Bodong Association, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Cordillera Broad Coalition, Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission, and North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza was guest speaker at the event.
The catch was, the CPA was not in Bauko but with 3,000 indigenous people from all over the region gathered with guests from elsewhere to commemorate the 33rd Cordillera Day in Sitio Bolo, Barangay Balantoy, Balbalan town in Kalinga province to honor Macliing Dulag, who was murdered on April 24, 1980 by government troops for leading his people’s opposition to the Chico Dam project, and other heroes of the Cordillerans struggle for autonomy.
CPA Secretary General Abigail Anongos said the CPA would never agree to working with the CPLA, which she accused of atrocities and “persecuting” their leaders and members.
The CPLA is an armed group that broke away from the New People’s Army shortly after the 1986 People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
Among the worst atrocities Anongos accused the CPLA of committing were: the 1987 murders of CPA vice chairman Daniel Ngayaan in October and CPA Abra coordinator Romy Gardo in December; and the killings in Kalinga of Danny Tismo in 1987, Santos Gunayon on 24 January 1988, Quirino Ambasing, on 28 September 1988, Antonio Laguinday on 29 July 1989, Cornelio Longan on 28 November 1989, Martin Agnas on 30 August 1990, and the Sabangan massacre which killed three children and wounded four others on 26 May 1989.