BAGUIO CITY — The peace process between the Philippine government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) continues to gain momentum.

This, as the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) signed memoranda of agreements with the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office – Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-RFO-CAR) and two premier educational institutions in the Cordillera Administrative Region – the Kalinga State University (KSU) and Abra State Institute of Sciences and Technology (ASIST).

The agreement with DA-CAR is part of the second phase of the Sustainable and Inclusive Peace and Transformation (SIPAT) Program which aims to create livelihood opportunities for members of the CBA-CPLA and turn them into an ‘army’ of entrepreneurs.

The SIPAT Program will be carried out in collaboration with accredited peoples’ organizations under the Department of Agriculture (DA) – CAR.

The program, which was launched in 2021, has so far provided economic interventions in 21 communities across the Cordillera region with a total funding of Php 28.5 million.

DA-CAR Regional Executive Director Dr. Cameron Odsey expressed his agency’s full support for the program, as he highlighted the benefits of the initiative.

“We accept the responsibilities in the implementation of the second phase of this SIPAT project this year,” Odsey said.

“The benefits to the intended beneficiaries are immense and far outweigh the difficulties and challenges we face in the smooth implementation of this project,” he added.

KSU President Dr. Eduardo Bagtang noted that the interventions provided under the MOA will help empower CBA-CPLA members.

“By providing livelihood to them, then we are strengthening them, we are empowering them, they will soon realize it’s not only through armed struggle that we can provide solutions to the problem of Cordillera Administrative Region,” Bagtang said.

The OPAPRU and KSU signed a MOA on the “Capability Building and Enterprise Enhancement Towards an Empowered CBA-CPLA Community” for identified communities in Kalinga.

The KSU will provide a capacity building package which will include product development, financial literacy training, and the provision of start-up kits for CBA-CPLA Community Enterprise Partners.

Meanwhile, the MOA with ASIST entitled “Makipango Nan Panagdul-as Ji Masadiit A Napauli Ji Gobielno: (Reaching Out to the former members of CPLA towards their Development during COVID-19)” will focus on continuous engagement with former CPLA members to identify their needs and determine programs and projects to address them.

For his  part, ASIST President Dr. Gregorio Turqueza expressed his school’s commitment to fulfil the provisions under the MOA.

“I hope that the struggle of economic upliftment can be done through this partnership. Hopefully we will be able to attain our objectives provided in our memorandum of agreement by committing ourselves to fulfil everything provided in our memorandum of agreement faithfully, religiously, and judiciously,” he said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said that the signing of the MOA is part of the Duterte Administration’s commitment to uplift the lives of not only of CBA-CPLA members but all Cordillerans.

“The top priority of the Duterte Administration includes implementation of programs that bring the dividends of peace closer to the people and their communities,” he said.

Galvez also said that these interventions will be implemented in more communities in the future.

“We hope to further expand the coverage of the SIPAT program to more communities in the region, and consequently, create an army of entrepreneurs,” he added.

According to the peace adviser, through the government’s normalization program for the CBA-CPLA, “we are now seeing the meaningful transformation of the organization’s membership, their families and communities.”

“The CBA-CPLA is a shining example that good things come to those who walk the path of peace,” Galvez said.###