OPAPP heads Task Force for CPLA concerns
BAGUIO CITY (22 September) -- In efforts to come up with one common understanding, definite stand and resolution of issues concerning the Cordillera People's Liberation Army(CPLA) that are repeatedly being raised, an assessment forum and workshop on the CPLA in the context of the Mt. Data Peace Pact is being worked out.
This was agreed upon during the first special conference and dialogue on CPLA issues by the Technical Working Group(TWG) for CPLA Concerns which was created during the Regional Peace and Order Council(RPOC) meeting held last month in the wake of the reported continuing recruitment and demand for integration and alleged involvement of some CPLA members in criminal activities.
"If we situate the Cordillera with the agenda of peace in 2010, it's high time we sit down and level off", former Sadanga mayor Gabby Ganggangan of the Cordillera Bodong Administration(CBA) said adding that going back to the events since September 1986, there were some objectives of the CPLA which were gained but some were not.
This was seconded by Cordillera Regional Police Director P/CSupt. Eugene Martin who said that with the involvement of CPLA in some activities affecting peace and order, an assessment would among others, determine and how far government has complied relative to the agreements and whether there is still a need to maintain the CPLA as an armed group. Some individuals claiming themselves to be CPLA members are reportedly involved in squatting, robbery holdup, and act as bodyguards, among others.
As backgrounder, then President Corazon Aquino signed a peace accord with the CPLA with Conrado Balweg on September 13, 1986 which formalized cessation of hostilities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the CPLA. This led to the passing of Executive Order 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region. The CBA is the political and mother organization while the CPLA is the military armed component.
CPLA president Marcelina Bahatan expressed her appreciation that they are now invited to join meetings to discuss their concerns and at the same time expressed surprise that there are many meetings in which CPLA issues were discussed but they were not aware of.
National Police Commission(NAPOLCOM) Director Rodolfo G. Santos, who is also the RPOC-CAR head secretariat, said this was because they do not know whom to invite as the CPLA had factions. As culled out from the minutes of RPOC meetings, issues and concerns concerning the CPLA were being tackled since 2000.
In the same forum, Ganggangan clarified that there is only one CPLA now and it is headed by Mailed Molina as Chairman, Corazon Balweg as chief of Staff and Bahatan as President.
But even as Bahatan and Ganggangan pointed out that there are no longer factions among the CPLA as early as 2003, Martin advised them to " establish control over the group and please police your ranks, before we can start talking".
On reports of CPLA involvement in illegal activities, Ganggangan said if indeed a CPLA is involved, he should be arrested and charged since the group 'in principle' does not tolerate criminal activities.
The issue on determining the real number of CPLA was also brought out. Allegedly, members are being recruited with the number now growing to about 4,000.
On the integration process, based on the report of the Northern Luzon Command, the 1,200 CPLA members that were recommended for integration to the AFP was already accomplished with 246 fully integrated composed of 15 officers and 249 enlisted personnel (EP), 528 CPLA members are absorbed in six CAFGU active auxiliary companies currently deployed in CAR provinces.
Col. Harold Cabreros pointed out that that those who are integrated are subject to the rules of AFP when they commit violations. Of the integrated, 4 officers and 13 EP died or were discharged.
On the livelihood component, there were some that are being implemented. Nolcom also reported a P2million seed money distributed to seven CPLA cooperatives regionwide.
The RPOC-TWG for CPLA Concerns is headed by Susan Marcaida, Director for Program Implementation and Monitoring Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process(OPAPP).
Its members are PRO-COR, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Northern Luzon Command, Department of Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Justice, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, Baguio Correspondence and Broadcasters Club, Mrs. Balweg, Mr. Molina, and Mrs. Bahatan. (PIA-CAR) [top]