BAGUIO CITY– A peace marker, made up of decommissioned gun parts coming from 339 firearms turned in by members of the Cordillera Bodong Administration and Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) as part of their commitment under the 2011 Closure Agreement with the national government, was unveiled here at the grounds of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Tuesday, 12 September 2023.

The ‘Longayban’ peace marker, which means beautiful maiden in the Ibaloi and Kankanaey dialect, is the third memorabilia installed in the Cordillera which aims to remind Cordillerans and peace stakeholders of the significant events that transpired in the earlier stages of the GPH-CBA-CPLA peace process.

The first peace marker was built in Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province as the site of the 1986 signing of the historic Mount Data Peace Accord. The second was placed in Manabo, Abra, as it was the site of Pagta Congress in 1986.

The ‘Pagta’ Congress discussed the inputs to the 1987 Constitution and Cordillera autonomy following the constitutional procedure (plebiscite) and 2002 integration. It was also where the fourth CBA Congress was held on December 1, 1986.

AFP’s unwavering commitment to PH peace process

Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and PMA Superintendent LtGen. Rowen Tolentino led the unveiling ceremony, together with witnesses of the Joint AFP-CBA-CPLA Integration Board (JACIB) Conference, the Joint Evaluation and Monitoring Committee (JEMC), and the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

“This [peace marker] will serve both as a preservation and recognition of the unwavering commitment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the GPH-CBA-CPLA peace process, and a symbol of our common goal of bringing lasting peace and sustainable development to the people of the Cordillera,” Galvez said in his message during the ceremony.

He noted that the establishment of the third peace marker is anchored on the healing and reconciliation component of the GPH-CBA-CPLA peace process.

The peace marker was designed by the Sagada Damayan Tribal Artists. Gilded with gold and measures two feet wide and three feet tall, it was installed beside the Longayban Hall inside the PMA.

The Longayban Hall is recognized as one of the historic sites where significant events of the GPH-CBA-CPLA peace negotiations took place.

According to LtGen. Rowen Tolentino, the hall has been witness to countless stories of dedication, sacrifice, and camaraderie of the academy’s esteemed alumni.

“It is a place where future leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are shaped, and where the values of honor, integrity, and service to the nation are instilled,” Tolentino said.

It was also in the same hall in December 2006 where the JACIB Conference was held, which resulted in the integration of qualified CPLA members as regular forces of the AFP and the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

Tangible symbol of collective strength, commitment

According to Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, the ceremonial unveiling of the peace marker is a testament of the Cordillerans’ collective strength as a people, and their commitment to building a brighter future.

“Today we are reminded that peace is not simply a mere wish. It is a shared responsibility that rests on the shoulders of each and every citizen,” said Magalong who highlighted the theme of this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month, “Kapayapaan: Responsibilidad ng Bawat Mamamayan” in his message.

“It’s a testament of our collective strength and our commitment for a brighter future for ourselves and the generations to come. The peace memorabilia we just unveiled today stands as a tangible symbol of our dedication to peace,” he added.

Meanwhile, Galvez assured Cordillerans that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) will continuously support the implementation of all signed peace agreements.

“All of the breakthroughs we have achieved so far have been realized with the unwavering support and steadfast commitment of all our peace partners. Rest assured that the OPAPRU shall continue to support the implementation of all signed agreements, as we move closer to our shared dream of a more peaceful, progressive, and resilient Cordillera,” he said. ###