Cordillera Bodong Administration Officer Leonardo Bun-asa talked about the struggle for self-determination where the ‘bodong’ played a vital role in uniting IPs fight a common cause while former NPA commander Andres Malawis provided historical notes on the quest for autonomy.
It can be recalled that the national government recognized the Cordillera’s aspiration for self determination when President Corazon C. Aquino on September 13, 1986 met with representatives of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army under then Fr. Conrado Balweg Cordillera Bodong Administration at the Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province for the exchange of peace tokens to signify the cessation of hostilities. The CPLA –CBA was break-away group of the NPA.
In his keynote message, Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang told participants that his fellow Cordillera lawmakers will re-file the bill on regional autonomy with amendment on certain provisions before November 8.
“As chairperson of the Committee on Indigenous Communities and Indigenous People in Congress, I take it as a personal responsibility and a social duty to give voice for my fellow IPs and to advance our interests towards the fulfillment of our aspirations. For these reasons, I will strive harder to fight for policies and programs that would give us the respect, recognition and acceptance as an equal partner in Philippine society,” he said.
Forum participants expressed to join push for the realization of regional autonomy by signing a commitment of support.
Governor Ferdinand Tubban also aired his support for the realization of the dream for peaceful ‘Ilis” (communities). He challenged officials, Bodong holders and IPMRs to do their roles in unifying IPs.
“We must remove the practice of helping our tribemates wage tribal war against our neighbor sub-tribes but instead help one another in rendering service. Tribal wars deprived us of our choice to progress.”
“We gather, we talk, we listen. But sad to say we seldom do something after”, the Governor stressed adding that we are the so-called minority but we are also the foundation of society’s growth.
During the culminating program, the “Tongyab” (Sissiwa/Posik) was performed offering a carabao as sacrificial animal and wreath laying ceremonies held in honor of departed Kalinga leaders and heroes.
The IP Month celebration was organized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, IPMRs and the provincial government. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)
By Peter A. Balocnit