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National

Govt, Cordillera People's Liberation Army prepare for closure agreement

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -– Following the signing of a joint declaration to indicate their steadfast commitment to fast track peace and development in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) are working towards a closure agreement that will lead to the transformation of the armed group into a legitimate socio-economic entity, and disposition of its arms and forces.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said that the closure agreement will “entail an essential shift in the way the CPLA views itself.”

“No longer as an armed group with a command structure that has commanders as leaders and combatants as members, but as a potent socio-economic, unarmed force that can directly make a difference in the lives of their families and communities,” she stated during the signing of the Joint Declaration of Commitment for Peace held last Friday at the Ortigas Park in Pasig City.

The peace adviser related that the closure agreement will embody six elements: community projects for identified communities; livelihood and employment support for CPLA members; sub-regional development projects; legacy documentation; final disposition of arms and forces; transformation of the CBA-CPLA into a potent, unarmed, socio-economic organization.

“We have from each side designated our joint panel which will be working very hard to detail the contents and procedures that will go into the agreement,” Deles said, adding that the closure pact will be signed in MalacaƱang upon approval of President Benigno Aquino III in the soonest possible time.

‘WE ARE READY’

CPLA Chair Arsenio Humiding said that their group is ready to transform itself and face the enormous challenge of helping their communities surmount poverty. “Our organization is ready. The commitment is clear that we are willing and ready to transform,” he stated during his speech.

He expressed high hopes that the Aquino administration will “lead us head on.”

“Right now, we’re going to start with something new. We’ve proven to the Cordillera that the CBA-CPLA is strong, consolidated and united to stand on behalf of the Cordillera,” he said.

Humiding added that the preparation for the closure agreement has been an arduous process of dialogues and consultations.

He called on the various sectors to support the peace process between the GPH and the CBA-CPLA. “We need to act and finish the Mt. Data Accord. This has long been overdue and it’s time to be finished.”

CBA President Marcelina Bahatan, on the other hand, appreciated the “initiative of the current adviser (Deles) to work for the closure of the peace agreement.”

COMMITMENT OF SUPPORT

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) Secretary Dinky Soliman expressed solidarity with the government and CBA-CPLA’s mutual pursuit for a negotiated political settlement.

She said that DSWD is eager to assist them in their plans of developing their communities through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resolute Communities) or PAMANA program.

“Under PAMANA, we will complement your efforts to achieve genuine development in the Cordillera,” Soliman told the more than 100 members of the CBA-CPLA who arrived all the way from CAR.

Pura Sumangil, chair of the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance (CCAGG), a civil society organization who has been helping the government mainstream former combatants in CAR for many years, proposed to help the GPH and the CBA-CPLA by keeping watch of the implementation of the closure pact.

“We offer ourselves to monitor for free the flow of seed investments coming from the government to the CPLA. This is to protect these investments at the same time ensure its honest project implementation,” she said, while challenging both parties to remain committed to the agreement.

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