By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) slammed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for “lying” and “insulting the Cordillera martyrs and heroes”.
Windel Bolinget, CPA chairperson said that the event in Mt. Data is part of the government’s efforts to distort history and highjack the victories of the Cordillera people’s movement. He said that April 24 is sacred to the Cordillera people’s movement, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Ama Macliing Dulag. He said that it is a day to remember the martyrs and heroes and celebrate the victories of the Cordillera struggle in the defense of land, life and honor.
“It was an outright lie, for OPAPP to say that the CPA was part of their forum in their recent forum on autonomy at Mt. Data, Bauko, Mountain Province last April 24,” Bolinget said.
In a recent press release, OPAPP claimed that representatives of CPA attended their autonomy forum and 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.”
OPAPP, in the said press release claimed that “five major rebel factions and groups in Cordillera,” including the CPA, met at a forum on regional autonomy and “jointly called on all Cordillerans to unite and rally behind efforts to establish the constitutionally mandated Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.”
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.
Anongos said the CPLA was responsible for the murders of CPA leaders among them were CPA vice chairman Daniel Ngayaan, CPA Abra coordinator Romy Gardo and Danny Tismo of Kalinga in 1987; Santos Gunayon on January 24, 1988, Quirino Ambasing, on September 28, 1988, Antonio Laguinday on July 29, 1989, Cornelio Longan on November 28, 1989, Martin Agnas on August 30, 1990, and the Sabangan massacre which killed three children and wounded four others on May 26, 1989.
A People’s Tribunal composed of various people’s organizations and human rights lawyers held here in Baguio City in 1988 found the CPLA guilty of various crimes and human rights violations including the murder of CPA leaders and terrorizing Cordillera communities.
Bolinget said that even the CPLA openly admitted to the abduction and murder of Ama Daniel and other CPA leaders.
“But despite the CPLA admitting to their crimes and the People’s Tribunal finding them guilty, the Corazon Aquino government instead of punishing them for their crimes coddled them and forged a bogus sipat,” Balinget said.
Bolinget said that under the administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino, the CPLA was given billions of funds for supposed development projects that has not really served its purpose.
“How can we reconcile with the CPLA when justice has not been served to our colleagues and to the communities they have terrorized? How can we work with OPAPP when it does not recognize the accountability and culpability of the CPLA to crimes they have committed against the Cordillera people?” Bolinget said.
Bolinget said that the CPA was in sitio Bolo, Barangay Balantoy, in Balbalan town of Kalinga with more than 3,000 delegates from all over the country and abroad for the staging the 33rd Cordillera Day on April 24.
The CPA has been staging Cordillera Day for 33 years now. The said activity traces its roots to the Macliing memorial that aimed to pay tribute to Macliing Dulag, a Kalinga pangat who was murdered on April 24, 1980 by government troops for leading his people’s opposition to the Marcos regime’s Chico Dam project.
Bolinget said that the CPLA and the government are even trying to deceive people by holding activities simultaneous with the Cordillera Day. He said that this 2017, the CPLA held a Bodong conference in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga on April 24 in an effort to mislead the people. He said that the government on the other hand has been commemorating the sipat between the CPLA and the Aquino administration.
“What are they celebrating when it was the government’s armed forces who killed Ama Macliing, when the Cordillera people were up against destructive government projects?” Bolinget asked.
“They must be celebrating their success in killing Ama Macliing and highjacking the Cordillera people’s victory over martial law and government destructive projects,” he added.
Bolinget reiterated that only when justice has been served and the CPLA ring leaders are arrested and jailed for their decades-long atrocities will the healing and reconciliation start.
“It is the responsibility of government to dismantle and punish the CPLA but what is government doing, it is even protecting the CPLA,” Bolinget said. # nordis.net