Elders bond for autonomy

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

DESPITE consecutive failures of the proposed Organic Act, several elders in created the Bamikba with the ultimate goal of pushing autonomy in the region.

Bamikba stands for Benguet, Abra, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Baguio City and Apayao. President Henry Aliten revealed the Bamikba is the former Bibak group. He said the new group was registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 6.

Aliten explained they created the group to represent the Cordillerans in the quest for autonomy. He added officials were selected based on a consensus August.

The group is fighting for autonomy stressing natural resources must be managed in the regional level for the benefit of the Cordillerans. The group also wants people in the region to take charge of the security of the area. Aliten said the indigenous armed groups in the region must be utilized.

Both Aliten and Samuel Dapapa Sr., member of the Great Council of Bodong Holder, said once the region attains autonomy, it can manage its natural resources and the taxes from these will go back to the community.
They said autonomy must be given to Cordillera as stated in Executive Order 220 issued by then president Corazon Aquino.

The New People’s Army (NPA) movement entered the Cordilleras first through the Province of Ifugao in 1970 then moved to the other provinces of Cordillera. Many native Cordillerans joined the movement for various reasons.

In 1974 there were already company size formations. A larger and enhanced idea of autonomy resurrected in 1986 particularly among members of the Lumbaya Company of the NPA stationed in Kalinga. Under the leadership of Ka-Ambo (Fr. Conrado Balweg, SVD) a Tinguian from Abra and then the political officer of the Lumbaya Company, the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army was formed in March 1, 1986 with the twin purposes of defending the Cordillera homeland and its people and to push for the Cordillera autonomy. It was able to get the open support of many cadres and tribal leaders and members in the Cordillera. It formally split from the NPA on April 7, 1986.

In 1986, Cory, in a gesture of national reconciliation ordered the conduct of peace negotiations with the CPLA with the objective of forging a ceasefire agreement.

On September 13, 1986, the government and the CPLA signed a Joint Memorandum of Agreement signifying both groups’ commitment to a cessation of hostilities.

The issuance of Executive Order 220 series of 1987 was the direct result of the Government-CPLA peace agreement in Mt. Data, Mt. Province and negotiations for granting the insurgents an acceptable degree of autonomy pending Congress’ creation of an organic act for the Cordillera autonomous Region.

On August 31, 2001, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Administrative Order 18, providing the integration of qualified members of the CPLA into the AFP.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 13, 2013.

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