Malacañang recently declared Tuesday, September 13, 2022 as a special non-working holiday in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in celebration of the 36th anniversary of the historic Mount Data ‘sipat’ for the exchange of peace tokens between the Philippine government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration–Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA).
Under Proclamation No. 49, series of 2022, signed by Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez by authority of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., the Palace pointed out it is but fitting and proper that the people of the CAR be given full opportunity to celebrate and actively participate in the celebration of one of the very important historic events that transpired in the region with appropriate ceremonies subject to the implementation of public health measures by the national government.
On September 13, 1986, former President Corazon C. Aquino and high-ranking leaders of the national government met with the representatives of the CBA-CPLA headed by the late rebel priest Conrado Balweg for the so called ‘sipat’ or the exchange of peace tokens that resulted to the secession of armed hostilities between the government forces and the armed group and to acknowledge the group’s aspiration for autonomy.
During the historic event, the CBA-CPLA turned over to the former President a spear and a shield while the latter gave to the group a Bible, a rosary and an Armalite rifle to signal the formal secession of hostilities as part of the realization of lasting peace in the region.
Engr. Andres Ngao-i, one of the surviving witnesses to the historic ‘sipat’ and the present peace consultant of the Tabuk City government, claimed that simple but meaningful activities will be lined up by the Office of the Presidential Assistance for Peace, Reconciliation and Unification (OPAPRU) in celebration of this historic event which will be held at the Mount Data hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
Ngao-i revealed that no less than Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unification Carlito Galvez will be the guest of honor and speaker during the aforesaid celebration where he is expected to renew the present administration’s commitment for the realization of the region’s quest for autonomy.
Further, he added that the memorabilia on the exchange of peace tokens between the government and the CBA-CPLA will also be inaugurated within the compound of the Mount Data Hotel which was established through the efforts of the OPAPRU and the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera.
The exchange of peace tokens between the government and the armed group paved the way for the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 220 by former President Aquino on July 15, 1987 that resulted to the establishment of the CAR which brought together the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province and Baguio City from Region I, and the provinces of Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao from Region 2 to comprise the special temporary administrative region.
Ngao-i expressed hope that Cordillerans will lobby with President Marcos, Jr. for the issuance of a certification that the pending proposed autonomy laws in both chambers of Congress are priority administration measures that must be passed the soonest for the region to achieve a long overdue dream of self-determination and self-rule. By Dexter A. See