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BAUKO, Mountain Province – Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. underscored that autonomy will correct national laws and policies that do not suit the unique characteristics of the land and people of the Cordillera which is currently a special temporary administrative region.
Lacwasan, who graced the 35th commemoration of the signing of the historic Mount Data peace agreement at the Mount Data hotel here Monday, pointed out that the forging of the peace agreement by the government of the Republic of the Philippines headed by former President Corazon C. Aquino and the Cordillera Bodong Administration–Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) led by the late rebel priest Conrado Balweg only proved that the attainment of political and economic development cannot be realized by taking arms.
Further, he added that the airing of grievances could also be realized not through violence, and the many Cordillera heroes who were instrumental in the signing of the peace agreement laid down their arms and embraced the peaceful means of ventilating the region’s quest for autonomy.
While the quest for autonomy remains to be an elusive dream for the Cordillerans, the governor claimed that the 34 years of clamoring for self-governance or self-rule should not discourage the people in reiterating this for the benefit of the present and future generations of indigenous peoples in the region.
According to him, the challenges that caused the failures of the quest for autonomy should not discourage the Cordillerans in sustaining the quest for autonomy as it is as the only available mode of moving the people out from the shackles of poverty because the regional government will be able to implement programs, projects and activities feasible in the current state of the region with lesser restraint from national priorities.
Lacwasan was joined by surviving signatories to the Mount Data peace agreement, witnesses to the said historic event, officials and employees of the Mountain Province government, the Bauko municipal government and concerned government agencies during the said commemoration rites that was held at the grounds of the Mount Data hotel.
He urged Cordillerans to remain united in sustaining the quest for regional autonomy as the same is seen as the region’s vehicle in spurring growth and development while ensuring the preservation and protection of the rich culture and traditions of the people living in an area with unique geographic situation compared to other areas in the country.
The immediate outcome of the historic Mount Data peace agreement that was sealed on September 13, 1986 was the issuance of former President Aquino of Executive Order (EO) No. 220 on July 15, 1987 establishing the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) by bringing together the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province and Baguio City from Region I and the provinces of Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao from Region II.
The local chief executive expressed hope that the region’s third attempt for the establishment of the autonomous region will be successful so that the region will start reaping the fruits of the armed struggle of those who had fought for self-determination and to be freed from the control of the central government that imposes policies that are not applicable in the current state of the region. By HENT