BAGUIO CITY, Sept. 12(PIA) -- President Rodrigo Duterte has declared September 13, 2019 as a special non-working holiday in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to mark the 33rd year anniversary of the historic Mount Data "Sipat" or peace accord between the government and the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA).
"It is but fitting and proper that the people of the Cordillera Administrative Region be given full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies," reads Proclamation No. 802.
Thirty-three years ago on September 13, 1986, the CPLA led by Fr. Conrado Balweg heeded the call for peace by then President Corazon Aquino through the forging of a "sipat" or peace agreement at the Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province. A symbolic exchange of peace tokens was done between the government with a rifle, a rosary, and a bible and a shield, spear, head ax and a bolo from the CPLA.
The CPLA and its political wing, the Cordillera Bodong Administration, broke up from the New People's Army in 1986.
A "pagta" or a peace agreement containing the conditions of the CPLA was also arranged during the ceremony which was the beginning of the cessation of hostilities between the government forces and the CPLA.
The historic event also paved the way for the government's recognition of the aspirations for the establishment of an autonomous region of the Cordillera starting off with a provision in the 1987 Constitution leading to the the issuance of Executive 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region as a transition towards autonomous region which was among the conditions of the agreements.
The said Cordillera regional autonomy, however, remains elusive until today.
As part of this year's celebration, a kapihan was held today. Activities are also lined up in Abra and Kalinga.
Last year, Cordillera elders and leaders met with some national officials and other autonomy advocates to commemorate the historic Mount Data Peace Accord at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
The commemoration event was organized by the Regional Development Council with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, the Presidential Communications Operations Office to drumbeat the pursuit of Cordillera regional autonomy at the national level, raise consciousness and gather insights or collective aspirations of the stakeholders relative to regional autonomy. It gathered key personalities who played a crucial role in the peace process and the pursuit of regional autonomy initiatives led by President Fidel V. Ramos who was among those present during the 1986 Mount Data Sipat as the then AFP Chief of Staff.
In the history of the peace process in the country, the Mt. Data Peace Accord was the first peace agreement. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)