BAUKO, Mountain Province – Officials of Kalinga and Mountain Province recently forged a peace covenant to continue upholding peace and harmony between the people of the two provinces.
The signing of the Mount Data Peace Covenant of 2022 by Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. and Kalinga Gov. James Edubba was witnessed by Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. and tribal elders Engr. Andres Ngao-i, chairman of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA), and former Sagada Mayor Tom Killip, a consultant to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).
The signing of the covenant was one of the highlights of the celebration of the 36th anniversary of the historic Mount Data ‘sipat’ or the exchange of peace tokens between the Philippine government represented by the late President Corazon C. Aquino and the CBA–Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) headed by the late rebel priest Conrado Balweg which was held on September 13, 1986 at the Mount Data Hotel.
“We recognize that our adjacent provinces have a long and rich history of socio-political, economic, and cultural engagements since time in memorial. This covenant is intended to promote the right of our people to live in peace and harmony, and peacefully co-exist with other communities,” the signed covenant stated.
It added that bearing in mind the values that the Cordillerans uphold, be these traditional or not, ‘we pledge ourselves with integrity of purpose to make our political and cultural relationship a prosperous one where our people can live, work, and play together in peace and harmony.’
The covenant condemned the surge of violence and all practices that contribute to its furtherance and that the concerned provincial officials shall ensure, as much as possible, that their constituents will likewise respect and uphold the same.
However, the governors agreed that the said covenant will not be construed so as to detract the validity of traditional peace agreements between communities within their respective jurisdictions.
“We affirm the just settlement of inter-boundary disputes by peaceful means through negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to agencies, and other diplomatic approaches which does not endanger national peace and security and justice. We shall oppose and discourage actions that may aggravate existing conflicts so as not to endanger peace processes and peaceful conflict resolution,” the covenant stressed.
The Mount Data Peace Covenant 2022 is the second peace agreement signed between concerned parties with the first peace agreement sealed by the Philippine government and the CBA-CPLA on September 13, 1986.
Some tribes in Mountain Province and Kalinga still practice the ‘bodong’ in the settlement of disputes as has been passed on through generations that was proven to be effective in ending conflicts to prevent the further loss of lives and damage to properties between the feuding tribes.