Cordillera peace advocates confident of autonomy under Duterte gov’t

Cordillera peace advocates confident of autonomy under Duterte gov’t

BAGUIO CITY — Peace advocates-members of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA) are confident that the Autonomy Bill pending in Congress will signed into law especially after President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to hold a special session to tackle the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Engineer Andres Ngao-i, CBA president, in a telephone interview with the Philippine News Agency, recalled that President Duterte, during the Cordillera leaders’ visit to Malacañang in July after the celebration of the region’s 30th anniversary, committed to give the Cordillera autonomy the same attention as the BBL.

“Even when we attended the meeting in Malacañang, that was his statement,” Ngao-I said.

Ngao-i explained that when the Mount Data Sipat (peace) agreement was signed between the CBA-Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) and former President Corazon Aquino representing the national government, one of the commitments was to give autonomy to the region.

The Sipat agreement led to the issuance of Executive Order 220 creating an interim region in preparation to becoming an autonomous region. This was followed by the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution that says there shall be an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.

Since then, Cordillerans had been clamoring for an autonomous region.

Ngao-i said the CBA-CPLA continues to believe in the government and has high hopes that under the Duterte administration, the Cordillera autonomy bill pending before the Lower Chamber will be approved and the agreement during the peace pact signing will be achieved.

He added that the CBA-CPLA, since the signing of the peace agreement, had been supportive of the government’s peace efforts, especially now under the leadership of President Duterte, whose commitment for the decentralization of the government is utmost.

Ngao-i said “we are still partners of the government in the maintenance of peace and order in the region and we will continue to uphold it,” with the belief in President Duterte, he said.

On December 1, Ngao-i administered the oath of the Benguet provincial and municipal leaders of CBA-CPLA. The strengthening of the group’s membership is aimed at widening the scope of the information campaign towards the conduct of dissemination of the benefits of the autonomy, which their group, and most of the region’s residents, are wanting to attain, he said.