PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza quashed fears of alleged recruitment the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
"There are requirements for everyone to follow if they want to enter the armed forces. In the case of the CPLA, what we plan to do is to give them livelihood particularly in the field of farming for them to sustain themselves while for those wanting to bear arms, we will field them in the field of security like security guards but not as members of the armed forces," Dureza said during his visit to the province of Abra.
Dureza emphasized the government’s moves for their re-integration through a program on peace and development.
"The present administrations process for the re-integration of the CPLA members is for them to be part of the peace and development force wherein they would have their arms be re-inventoried by the armed forces prior to their training to become part of the reserve force which would serve as force multipliers, for others to have access to livelihood programs which will give them profit coming from government, and for educational programs for those wanting to study," the secretary explained.
The Duterte administration have made inclusivity as a main objective in the peace process since it believes everyone has a part in the process of development and is against the disruption of lives in the community.
The proposed formation of the Peace and Development Forces (PDF) to former Cordillera rebel groups is part of the peace agreement between the government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA).
During the “galigad” or a ceremonial cessation of hostilities presented by the CBA-CPLA and Abra Vice Governor Ronald Balao-as faction, Dureza, AFP-Peace Process Officer chief Brigadier General Raniel Ramiro suggested the process of decommissioning of firearms as an initial step to the eventual creation of the PDF towards the normalcy of former rebel groups in Cordillera.
"Is it possible for you to have your firearms be inventoried by the military and for them to be the custodian for safe keep in purposes after which you undergo training as army reservists and eventually after qualifying, be a reservist in the army," Dureza asked the returnees.
In January 17, Senator Miguel Zubiri fulfilled a recent promise to the Cordillerans by filing Senate Bill 1678 or an Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.
Zubiri is among the senators supportive of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.
The Senate Bill 1678 states the establishment of an Autonomous Region of Cordillera that will give the Cordillerans the opportunity to decide on what policies and programs will best fit the economic, social, and cultural development within the framework of the national sovereignty and in consonance with their local practices and cultural heritage and identity.
It also aims to address underdevelopment and poverty in the Cordilleras more effectively through regional autonomy.
Last year, leaders and representatives of various rebel factions and other groups, namely the CPLA and CPLA-CBA, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC), Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC), and North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG), jointly called on all Cordillerans to unite and rally behind efforts to establish the constitutionally mandated Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.
The group, together with the local chief executives and representatives of the six provinces of the Cordillera and the City of Baguio, have expressed support for the passage of House Bill 5343, “An act establishing the autonomous region of the Cordillera,", while a house committee hearing in HB.5343 is set to be done in Baguio City, Abra, and other provinces in the relation next month for Congress to know the real pulse of the people.