TINGLAYAN, KALINGA – Pedro Magannon Abbacan Sr., a recognized Kalinga pangat (respected elder) was a key figure in the historic signing of the Mount Data Peace Accord. He passed away on July 12 at the age of 89.

Popularly known in the community as Ama (father), Abbacan was among the five signatories when the Philippine government and Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) signed the Mount Data Peace Accord on September 13, 1986.

The document is the first written peace agreement in the peace process with the CPLA, a rebel group which split from the New People’s Army (NPA).

Abbacan was buried in his hometown at Bangad, Tinglayan in the afternoon of July 15 in accordance with indigenous traditions.

As an elder of the Cordillera Bodong Administration, the political arm of the CPLA, Abbacan was actively involved in efforts to push forward the Cordillera people’s pursuit for genuine autonomy.

“He was unschooled in formal education but his wisdom as a pangat is renowned and respected in Kalinga,” recalled former Tinglayan Vice Mayor Samuel Calbuyao.

As a pangat, Abbacan was often sought to help settle pressing issues in the community such as tribal conflicts by finding peaceful resolutions to these concerns.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) consultant Thomas Killip said the Kalinga elder transcended his role as a community pangat, as the peace pact he signed can be considered national in scope because of its impact on the overall Philippine peace process.

“He even worked selflessly for people, not for himself. People like him give meaning to the work we do,” Killip noted.

Calbuyao said Abbacan was also known for championing various projects that have benefited the community as a whole.

Abbacan, he said, was also credited for lobbying the construction of the elementary and high school in Bangad.

On December last year, he proposed the construction of a hanging bridge connecting the community to the rice fields across the Chico River, according to OPAPRU Project Development Officer Jessica Banganan.

The project, which was initially approved by the Joint Evaluation and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) of the peace process between the national government and CPLA, was proposed for possible inclusion in the annual list of PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn Program (PAMANA) projects for next year, Banganan said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. extended his sympathies to the surviving wife and family of Abbacan through Killip.

“Abbacan’s death is a major loss to the peace process with the CPLA. His legacy should inspire all of us to persevere even more to achieve our collective goal of uplifting the lives of our Cordilleran brothers and sisters, and bringing a just and lasting peace to all Filipinos,” Galvez said.

The peace adviser emphasized that the Marcos administration is determined to push forward the comprehensive Philippine peace process, and build on and sustain the gains achieved over the years. ###