Batasan, Quezon City – Presidential Adviser on the Peace process Jesus G. Dureza assured leaders of the unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) that the government will continue to dialogue with them to ascertain what appropriate assistance could be extended to the remaining men and women who were reportedly excluded from the controversial closure agreement entered by the previous administration with certain officials of the armed group.
Dureza met with unified CPLA chairman and Abra Vice Governor Ronald Balao-as, Cordillera Bodong Administration chairman Engr. Andres Ngao-I, CPLA vice chairperson Juanita Chulsi, Chief of Staff Andrew Cos-agon and various provincial commanders in the sidelines of the 1st Congressional Forum on Cordillera Autonomy held Wednesday here.
Balao-as brought to the attention of Secretary Dureza the need for the government to continue recognizing the unfulfilled demand of the CBA-CPLA during the historic September 13, 1986 Mount Data ‘[spat’ that was signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino and former rebel priest and CBA-CPLA founder Fr. Conrado Balweg, especially the grant of autonomy to the Cordillera.
Secretary Dureza, who was with OPAPP undersecretary Nabel Tan and other OPAPP officials, underscored the government will continue talking to the unified CPLA regarding their issues and concerns and that he will try to find the needed solutions to their problems or for other agencies to look into the matters that is within their jurisdiction.
“We are open to whatever talks with concerned groups to find ways on how to achieve lasting peace around the country. We never intended to sideline certain groups because our primary objective is to be inclusive relative to the peace initiatives that are being done in various conflict-stricken areas in the country,” Dureza underscored during the 30 minute meeting.
The unified CPLA and OPAPP officials agreed to hold the dialogue in Bangued, Abbra next month to thresh out the important issues and concerns of the group that must be addressed by the government through the various government agencies having jurisdiction over the problems that will be raised.
Balao-as expressed the unified CPLA’s gratitude to Secretary Dureza and other OPAPP officials for giving them a chance to ventilate the issues and concerns t5hat must be given attention by the government with the hope that there will be initial agreements that could be reached between the group had the OPAPP during the scheduled dialogue.
Earlier, Balao-as reported that there were over 7,000 documented CPLA men from the different provinces in the region who were allegedly left out by the previous leadership when it entered into the questionable closure agreement with the leaders of the previous administration that irked the CPLA stalwarts who worked out the expulsion of the ones that initiated the closure agreement.
Under the September 13, 1986 Mount Data ‘sipat,’ the CPLA will cease to exist once the region will be able to achieve autonomy.