Thousands of people have witnessed the virtual commemoration program of the 35th Anniversary of the Mount Data Sipat on September 13, put together by the Cordillera Regional Development Council through the Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) program and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR).
Due to the unprecedented effects of the lingering COVID-19, the commemoration program was held online to reach more people while keeping everyone safe and informed about the history of the struggles that created the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Messages were delivered by the RDC-CAR chair Governor Jocelyn Bernos, Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for CAR and DA Secretary William Dar, Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Baguio City Congressman Marquez O. Go, and OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.. Mr. Georaloy Palao-ay of DepEd-CAR served as the emcee for the program.
In his message, Secretary William Dar said that the Mt. Data Sipat was not just a covenant to end hostilities in the region. It also confirmed the shared commitment of the government and the Cordillerans to establish autonomy to address peace and development concerns in the region. “There is no nobler purpose nor any greater gift that one generation can bestow to the next than to build a lasting peace,” he added.
Mayor Gabino P. Ganggangan of Sadanga, Mountain Province narrated the context and the events surrounding the Mount Data peace pact. According to him, Fr. Condrado Balweg formed the Cordillera Bodong Administration- Cordillera People’s Liberation (CBA-CPLA) after he defected from the New People’s Army in 1984 as the agenda of the CPP-NPA was different from the Balweg group that wanted regional autonomy and uniting the provinces with shared culture and history.
To achieve regional autonomy and peace, the CPLA entered into a peace accord with the national government headed by the late President Corazon Aquino on September 13, 1986, now known as the Mount Data Sipat. This led to the signing of Executive Order 220, establishing the Cordillera Administrative Region as a transitory region preparatory to an autonomous region.
Congressman Marquez O. Go of Baguio City, in his capacity as House Committee on Local Government TWG Chairperson for the Cordillera autonomy bill, mentioned that the substitute bill establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region moves to the Committee on Appropriations after being approved by the Committee on Local Government and Committee on Ways and Means. He remains hopeful that the proposed organic act will be passed within this 18th Congress.
The Cordillera Regional Development Council, through the SPCAR program continues the journey and pursuit for achieving regional autonomy for the Cordillera by utilizing the different media and platforms to inform, raise awareness, and increase the support of the Cordillerans for Regional Autonomy.
By Bob Lyndon B. Daroya