CRA siege uncalled for

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In the morning of September 15, 2015, your Herald Express received an emergency call from a concerned citizen seeking police assistance in order to ease the brewing tension between hardline supporters of  two contending factions of the defunct Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA)  who were in the premises of the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CAR) hall while some of them already succeeded in dismantling the divisions of the hall which was previously used as the office of regional assemblymen at the eight of the existence of the controversial Cordillera bodies. We immediately got in touch with responsible police officials who immediately deployed the Baguio’s Finest elite forces to control the tension that might have turned into violence, thanks to the timely intervention of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO).

It came to our attention that some 70 hardline supporters of former Boliney Mayor Balaw-as who were on board two dump trucks and two vans came to the city to takeover the CRA hall that is being used as an office by the faction of former Bucloc, Abra Mayor Bailed Molina. Some of those interviewed from the Balaw-as camp disclosed that there were dozens of their colleagues who were in Bangued waiting for the proper time to come to the city to serve as augmentation force once the embattled Molina group will resist such takeover. What was reportedly told them is that they will come to the city to help in the renewed campaign for regional autonomy and help in the demolition of the illegal structures that were erected within the CRA compound only to find out that they were to subdue the forces belonging to the Molina group.

The timely arrival of BCPO personnel dispatched by Senior Superintendent Rolando Miranda contributed in dousing cold water to the brewing tension. AS peace officers, it was observed that they did the right thing. They called those concerned into a dialogue and instructed them that they should not come to the city and create trouble because people in the city are peace-loving ones, thus, they have no place in Baguio. In order to keep them away from the CAR hall, leaders of both camps signed an agreement that no one should be allowed to occupy the hall until concerned government agencies shall have ruled on who will be the ultimate ones to hold office in the place. Everyone complied with the agreement and left the CRA hall that was subsequently padlocked for security reasons.

We deplore the barbaric act of the Balaw-as group to come to the city and try to create trouble. The Molina faction had been occupying the place for quite a time now but we are wondering why the Balaw-as group suddenly came up to takeover the facility. If the members of the Molina group have problems with the members of the other faction, the same should be resolved peacefull and through the indigenous way of settling conflicts and not through barbaric and irregular acts. We should not taint our renewed pursuit for regional autonomy by acts that would continue to disappoint people in supporting our attempt for self-governance. We understand that the CRA property was already part of the liquidated properties of the Cordillera bodies that were turned over to Malacañang and put under the care of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for proper disposition.

We call on the NCIP to assert its authority over the CRA property and give recognition to those who are legitimate groups to occupy the area for the sake of putting things in order. We want concerned government agencies and local governments to take control of the situation in their places so that similar incidents will not occur in their areas of jurisdiction.

Conflicts are not welcome in the city that is why feuding CPLA factions should settle their differences in the places where they come from. They should not try to disrupt the peace and order of the city by trying to create trouble that is traced to obvious personal and political differences..

We salute the police under the leadership of Senior Superintendent Miranda for being at the right place at the right time in order to directly control the situation because their absence could have caused violence that would have resulted to the loss of lives and damage to property. It was also correct on their part to deploy policemen in the area to prevent any member of the feuding factions from going back to the place until responsible agencies shall have decided on who among them will be given due recognition to hold office in the place. There are other issues that were divulged by some members of the CPLA on the real issued behind the failed takeover. Be that as it may, the feuding groups should not bring to the city their disagreements that might escalate into violence leading to loss of lives and damage to property in the future.

We reiterate that people with evil intentions that would compromise the city’s peace and order are not welcome here. Stay in the areas where you came from and try to settle your differences before joining the mainstream society.

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