24 April 2017 — The Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army (CPLA) invited representatives of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) to their dialogue with Sec. Jesus Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process under the current Administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. PBCI sent me in my capacity as Executive Vice President. With me was Ms. Maimai Lim, our partner in propagating Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) principles and practices in the Province of Antique.
This was the first Forum on Cordillera Regional Autonomy dubbed as Pioneer Cordillera Champions Coming Together which was held at Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province. There were more than 200 participants including representatives of various Cordillera revolutionary and political groups:
:: CPLA and Cordillera Bodong Association (CPLA-CBA);
:: Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
:: Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC)
:: Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC)
:: North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG)
Ms. Juanita ‘Chupan’ Chulsi, CPLA Chief of Staff, shared her optimism on the outcome of this meeting. She said, “Even though we have factions, we are united in our stand in supporting autonomy towards federalism.”
There were various civil society organizations who were also present. Local government units and national government agencies also participated in the talks.
This event was organized by the Cordillera Regional Development Council (CRDC) and the National Economic and Development Authority in the Cordillera Administrative Region (NEDA-CAR).
Sec. Dureza expressed his confidence that the Cordillera people may be united and prepared for regional autonomy, referring specifically for the passage of House Bill 5343, An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera which was filed recently in Congress. “I got the message that that there is already a clear indication that everybody would like to converge,” he said. He also expressed the support of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) as the Cordillera people continues to pursue their autonomy: “We would like to help you push this forward.” At the same time, Dureza emphasized that this movement toward autonomy must have the full support of the grassroots.
PBCI has been journeying with the Cordillera people for the past seven years, starting in Kalinga Province. In 2015, we travelled through the region to listen to the various CPLA leaders.
PBCI fully supports the aspiration of the Cordillera people for autonomy. May the Creator bless them and grant them victory as they struggle for their right to self-determination in their Ancestral Domain.