Camp Melchor F dela Cruz, Upi, Gamu, Isabela – The last batch of CPLA Integrees composed of 69 strong sons and daughters of former members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) graduated from Candidate Soldiers Course Class 347-13 on May 14 at the Division Grandstand.
This is the final closure of the Integration Component of the CPLA which was started by then President Corazon Aquino, and Fr. Conrado Balweg of Cordillera People’s Liberation Army when they signed the peace process (the SIPAT). In existence for more than two (2) decades now the “SIPAT” has been experiencing rough processes for about 27 years. However, today through the over-all supervision of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the support of the AFP, specifically the 5ID together with PNP and other stakeholders, the integration component of the peace process finally ended. This yielded a successful Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process for the members of the CPLA. In less than one year , 425 firearms were already surrendered by our CPLA brothers to the 5ID under the then MGen Joel P Ibanez and continued by the present commander MGen Benito Antonio T De Leon. Moreover, since 2002, a total of 676 integrees including 15 officers from CPLA were integrated into the Regular Force, AFP – a very important accomplishment of the Division in its efforts to win lasting peace in the region.
Honorable Denis B Habawel, Ifugao Povincial Governor who was the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the said graduation rites, pointed out that the significance of the integration of the CPLA of men and women is to carry the cause of Cordillerans in the pursuit of genuine peace and development. ”You have carried out the struggle for the Cordillerans because you believe in peace”, Governor Habawel said. He also uttered that both sides in the peace accord believe that the Cordillera Region can be developed only if there is lasting peace and stability. He added that the former members of the CPLA took their arms because they fought for ancestral domain and self- determination. Thus, they were granted an autonomous region in the pursuit for peace and development.
Governor Habawel appealed to the graduates to join hands in the spirit of peace and development for the future of our next generation. As new soldiers of the Philippines Army, the graduates will serve as catalyst for change in order to sustain peace in the Cordillera Region. This will help the government insulate the Cordilleran communities from groups that will threaten the peace progress in the area.
This memorable ceremony was witnessed by the CPLA elders, local officials, parents and loved ones of the new soldiers.