National and local peace-keepers expressed their support to the region’s pursuit for peace and development through regional autonomy during the commemoration of the 34th Sipat anniversary last September 13 organized by the Cordillera Regional Development Council through its secretariat, NEDA-CAR. Some of the country’s top peace and security officials in the persons of National Security Council (NSC) Secretary Hermogenes Esperon and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Carlito Galvez commended the Cordillerans in upholding the peace agreements during the 1986 Sipat as they expressed their support to the region’s aspirations for peace and development.

Sec. Esperon who is also the Vice-Chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) during his speech said that as the Cordillera’s experience on the successful peace pact may serve as an inspiration to others and that he guaranteed that positive outcomes can be granted to those who embrace peace. He added that they will continue to support the region on its steps towards peace.

Sec. Galvez highlighted the important contribution of the Cordillerans in the continued quest for peace and order in the region which is one essence of the Sipat, thus he assured the region of his support to achieve long-lasting peace and to realize the region’s aspiration for an autonomous region.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Major General Arnulfo Burgos, Jr. and 5th Infantry Division Major General Laurence Mina likewise expressed their full support to the region’s aspirations for peace and development. General Burgos also congratulated the Cordillera in choosing the path to peace through the said agreement and assured that he and the AFP will fully support the region in its autonomy advocacy. In his message, General Mina relayed his high respects to the tribal leaders in the region as he reminisced his assignment in Abra in the 1980s. He recalled how the Philippine army and the Cordillera tribal leaders managed to have a peaceful coexistence even during the armed struggle in the region.

Sadanga Mayor Gabino Gangangan who openly supported the national government’s whole-of-a-nation approach to ending local communist armed conflict said that the achievement of autonomy for the Cordillera is a sound and appropriate ELCAC strategy for the region. According to him, autonomy addresses both the political and economic issues in the region that have been the root causes of the struggle. This advocacy for autonomy is aligned with the ELCAC strategy to achieve peace by eradicating poverty, he continued. Mayor Gangganngan, therefore, urged the national officials to uphold the essence of the Mount Data Sipat which is the establishment of Cordillera autonomy.

The activity was conducted by the Cordillera Regional Council (RDC-CAR) to gather stakeholders and partners both from the national and local to commemorate the signing of a peace pact between the National Government and tribal leaders which paved the way for the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region which would then administer the affairs of the region in preparation for the establishment of an autonomous region. With the help of the national officials who showed their support during the event, the RDC continues its upstream activities hoping to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the presidential support to the bill.