(L to R) (far left) Speakers Jamilnur Diampuan Sarip, (middle) 503rd Brig. Comm. of the AFP Col. Leopoldo Imbang, former La Trinidad Mayor Edna Tabanda (far right) Mayor Mauricio Domogan and OPAPP Deputy Secretary Atty. Nabil A. Tan are joined by members the OPAPP staff and dance troupes of BSU and NCIP.

BAGUIO CITY – The send-off event of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ (OPAPP’s) PEACE BUZZ caravan in recognition of September as National Peace Awareness Month was conducted last year in Baguio. The caravan traveled throughout the country to promote peace and raise awareness to a number of conflict-ridden places in our country and ultimately sending its messages of peace to our brothers and sisters in war-torn Marawi City. The event pushed through despite the national declaration of protest by the Office of the President.

Regional Development Council Chair and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan opened the send-off program by sharing the unique culture and common history of the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao, distinct from the majority of the country. These are the only regions which are granted an autonomous government by our Constitution.

Speaking in behalf of the Cordillera community, the Mayor said that in the past, “Our representation in the national government was, of course, lacking and the sharing (referring to budget allocation) was likewise very insufficient for our peace and development”. He added, “[this led to] a lot of our leaders in the past to fight and clamor for more representation, self-determination and autonomy”.

This clamor reached fever pitch in the 1980s with the formation of various groups such as the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) and the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA).

The mayor emphasized, however, the significant history of peace in the Cordillera region with the signing of the 1987 sipat or peace pact in Mt. Data, Bauko, Mountain Province between the CPLA and the Philippine Government.

“Let us continue to move for autonomy: this is our basic vehicle for our peace and development”, the Mayor stressed.

Most of the speakers cited the creation of the MNLF, MILF, and BIFF in the 60s and 70s in Muslim Mindanao and CBA & CPLA in the 70s and 80s in the Cordillera in response to years of national neglect of cultural heritage and economic development. Particularly, Baguio Muslim Community leader Mohammad Nasser Abbas cited poverty as the most significant cause of the conflict in the Bangsamoro region.

Other guests in attendance were former La Trinidad Mayor Edna Tabanda, PRO-COR Sr.Supt. Arwin Pagcalinawan, Mindanao State University student leader Jamilnur Diampuan Sarip, 503rd Brig. Comm. of the AFP Col. Leopoldo Imbang and OPAPP Deputy Secretary Atty. Nabil A. Tan.

The caravan culminated its two-week nation-wide journey in Iligan city which provided a second home to refugees from Marawi.

 

by Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA- SPCAR