BANGUED, Abra – The unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) asserted that the new set of officers of the organization who were installed during the unification process last June are the legitimate officers of the group and it did not allow other self-proclaimed leaders to be representing them in activities that were not even sanctioned by the members of the Council of Elders.
Unified CPLA Chairman and Vice Governor Ronald Balao-as said it is unfortunate there are still former CPLA officials who continuously claim to either be the chairman or president of the organization, and it is disheartening to know there are those who are being belated into believing they still have the power when actually they do not because of the completed unification process among the former factions of the group.
“We appeal to our fellow Cordillerans not to be taken into a ride by former CPLA officials who continue to misrepresent the organization because their statements and decisions are no longer sanctioned by the unified leadership. We want to institute genuine reforms to our organization to erase the ban image that was tainted to our group through the wrongdoings of previous CPLA officials but there are still some camps who are trying to discredit our efforts and we will not allow them to succeed,” Balao-as stressed.
The CPLA official pointed out that the group was able to initially succeed in its cleansing efforts to rid the organization with the so-called “scalawags” and the reforms are now being put in place. The public can restore their trust and confidence in the new leadership, which continues to painstakingly institute changes that will reverse the bad perception of the Cordillerans on the group.
According to him, the present CPLA leaders will not allow what the former respected leaders had established to be simply ruined by the wrongdoings of unscrupulous and enterprising former officers who want to use the group for their personal and political interests.
He explained that Cordillerans must be aware of the region’s history that the armed struggle in the region was ended by the historic Mount Data sipat agreement entered between former CPLA head Fr. Conrado Balweg and former President Corazon C. Aquino on September 13, 1986, which paved the way for the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) less than a year later on July 15, 1987, by virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 220.
Balao-as underscored what the unified leadership wants is to sustain the legacy of the achievements of the CPLA founders, which is for the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera for the benefit of the present and future generations, considering that the grant of regional autonomy was the top in the list of the 26-point agenda used by the CPLA during the Mount Data peace talks.
The CPLA currently maintains over 7,000 combatants spread out in Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao and Benguet contrary to the perception from various sectors that the group is no longer a force to reckon with, thus, the need to push through with the process of working towards autonomy vis-à-vis federalism.