BAGUIO CITY, Sept 15(PIA) -- Cordillera leaders and other national officials renewed their support for the pursuit of Cordillera autonomy and development during the 34th Mount Data "Sipat" anniversary commemoration last Sunday, September 13.
Local and national officials gathered in Baguio City while others attended via on line for this this year's Sipat anniversary celebration amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mayor Gabino Ganggangan of Sadanga, Mountain Province and Cordillera Elder Leonardo Bun-as gave a recollection of the Cordillera's journey towards peace and development and reminded the national government of the essence and significance of the Mount Data Sipat and affirm and intensify the efforts and commitments for the establishment of an autonomous Cordillera region.
Both Ganggangan and Bun-as were witnesses to the "sipat" or peace agreement forged 34 years ago on September 13, 1986 at the Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province between then President Corazon Aquino for the Philippine Government and Cordillera People's Liberation Army led by Fr. Conrado Balweg. Bun-as is also a signatory to the agreement.
The historic event also paved the way for the government's recognition of the aspirations for the establishment of an autonomous region of the Cordillera starting off with a provision in the 1987 Constitution leading to the issuance of Executive 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region(CAR) as a transition towards autonomous region which was among the conditions of the agreements.
In his virtual keynote message, Senator Christopher Laurence "Bong" Go committed to support the realization of the dreams and aspiration for a progressive Cordillera.
"Ang rehiyong Cordillera ay matagal nang kilala sa makulay na kultura at salaysay sa lipunan. Kaya naman nakikiisa ako sa pagdiriwang ng Sipat na isinusulong ang kapayapaan at kaunlaran ng inyong rehiyon. Umaasa ako na ang okasyon na ito ay magbibigay ng inspirasyon sa inyong mga miyembro at inyong komunidad para harapin ang mga suliranin ng ating bansa ngayon," Go said.
"Ibinibigay ko ang aking buong suporta sa inyong paglalakbay tungo sa pagtupad ng inyong hangarin para sa inyong lugar. Magsikap po tayo para makamit natin ang ating pangarap para sa mas maunlad na Cordillera," he added.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for the Cordillera, thanked Sen. Go for the support to the Cordillera region and its quest for autonomy and development.
"We are gathered today as one region ready to fulfill the commitment for autonomy during the Mount Data Sipat. May this celebration be a reminder and a call to action to us, national and regional officials, to actively steer the region's direction towards our shared dream for regional autonomy," Dar said
Baguio City Cong. Mark Go, Ifugao Cong. Solomon Chungalao delivered their messages at the venue while Mountain Province Cong. Maximo Dalog Jr. did it virtually, all calling for unity among the Cordillerans including the political leaders, organizations, and other stakeholders to push for the long aspired autonomy in the region.
Other representatives who delivered their messages and vowed to support the passage of House Bill 5687 creating the Cordillera Autonomous Region were Majority Floor Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of the 1st District of Leyte and Committee on Local Governance Chair Cong. Noel Lopez Villanueva of the 3rd District of Tarlac.
Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez, National Security Adviser Sec. Hermogenes Esperon and NEDA Asec Mercedita Sombilla gave their messages of support online.
Regional Development Council Vice Chair NEDA-CAR Regional Director Milagros Rimando lauded the national and local leaders as well as the Cordillera elders for their renewed support and unity for the realization of the autonomous region of the Cordillera.
Also joining the commemoration were Northern Luzon Command Commander MGen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., 5th Infantry Division Commander BGen. Laurence Mina. (JDP/RMC-PIA CAR)