Peace and Development – The RDC and RPOC work together to provide just and lasting peace and sustainable development for the Cordillera.

Lagawe, Ifugao – The joint Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting held last June 18 underscored peace concerns in the region. These include the accreditation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that will facilitate CSOs’ access to far-flung areas to provide aid and services, the untagging of the 7 Cordillerans from the DOJ list of terrorists, the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF, and the need for consultation on the Chico river pump irrigation project. These were tackled during the RDC Executive committee last May and elevated to the RDC-RPOC for further discussion.

Both councils tasked the RDC Private Sector Representatives (PSRs) to lead the development of the consultations between CSOs and the relevant line agencies and in coordination with NEDA to facilitate the CSO accreditation system. This task recognizes that the PSRs are the most appropriate to work with the CSOs as the former generally represent the latter in the RDC.

Meanwhile, the councils decided to defer passing the resolution to request the untagging of various Cordillerans as terrorists. Indeed, it was agreed that DILG will write the DOJ to find out more on the procedure of tagging and untagging. The RPOC likewise committed to verify with various intelligence agencies the basis of the tagging.

On the resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF, both councils approved a resolution supporting the administration’s resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Addressing military and NPA encounters, RDC PSR Andres Ngao-i urged the body to move even further and conduct localized peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF within their respective municipalities. Former Mayor and OPAPP representative Tom Killip added that in his hometown of Sagada, Mountain Province, localized peace talks have been a long-accepted strategy for maintaining peace.

Finally, the RDC and RPOC agreed that benefits to the Kalinga side of the pump irrigation project must be increased as the water is sourced from the Cordillera region. NEDA and the RDC Sectoral Committee on Watershed and Environmental Management were tasked to draft a resolution urging NIA and DA to increase the benefits to the Kalinga side of the project. (by Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA- SPCAR)