By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “You were never welcomed in the city, [you] are not above the law and should not act as a peacekeeping force here,” Baguio City Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas reminded the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) in the city council’s regular session, June 11.
Fariñas said that the CPLA should refrain from assuming the duties of policemen in keeping public order and peace. “We have our peacekeeping force and it is the Philippine National Police, we do not want you here,” he said. He added that the CPLA should stop from meddling in land problems and in the demolition of houses.
The City Council summoned the CPLA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat and Harrison-Carantes village officials headed by village chieftain Helen Medina to clarify matters regarding the status and occupancy of the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) building. Medina complained to the city council that members of the CPLA threatened her and other village officials.
Members of the city council advised John Blue, the commander of the CPLA Mailed Molina faction, to refrain from harassing the officials of Harrison-Carantes barangay (village) regarding the use of the CRA compound. Fariñas reminded the CPLA commander and his band to respect the officials especially the village chieftain.
According to Medina, the barangay occupies only one room while the CPLA occupies five rooms. The rest of the building is rented out to a computer shop, a clothing store and a church. She said that the CPLA collects all the rent.
Blue said that they are not aware of what Medina is saying. He added that it is the other faction of the CPLA headed by Mike Suguiyao who rented out the building.
The said building is located at a 5,000 square meter-lot where the Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Apayao and Kalinga (BIBAK) dormitory once stood. According to the representative of DENR Edgar Flor, the lot is still in the name of the Republic of the Philippines and therefore it is not owned by any private entity. He added that based on their records, there is no specific directive for the use and who should use the building.
In 1990, the defunct Cordillera Executive Board (CEB) constructed the BIBAK multipurpose building. The building was later turned over to the Office of the National Cultural Communities (ONCC, now the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or NCIP) but was continuously occupied by the CRA.
Councilor Joel Alangsab reminded Blue of their meeting last May 15 where they agreed that the barangay council and the CPLA usage of the building shall remain in status quo and the two parties should respect their co-existence. “But it seems that the CPLA is not complying with the agreement,” Alangsab added.
Fariñas said that the CPLA is illegally occupying the building. Blue pleaded before the city council that they be allowed to stay in the building while they are looking for another place. The council has yet to make resolutions on the use of the building.
‘CPLA should be evicted’
In a related development, Katribu Partylist president Beverly Longid called on the city government officials to show their political will in addressing the continuous presence of the CPLA in the city.
Longid said that the CPLA should have been evicted long time ago as they have no business in Baguio. She commended the city council in being firm with CPLA.
In 1999, Baguio officials declared the CPLA and former Bucloc Mayor, the so-called army’s chairman, Mailed Molina, persona non grata for act of arrogance when he led the march of paramilitary group in full battle gear along Session Road. Longid said that the present city officials should affirm this and take necessary resolutions or actions in getting rid of the CPLA in city. She added that the paramilitary group should not only be declared persona non grata but also be held liable for the crimes they committed.
According to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, CPLA members are involved in numerous crimes and other atrocities against the people of the Cordillera. CPLA took responsibility for the abduction and disappearance up to the present of Daniel Ngayaan, then CPA vice chairperson, in October 1987. CPLA members also reportedly murdered Romy Gardo, CPA coordinator in Abra, in December 1987.
CPLA members were also involved in the killings of CPA members in Kalinga such as Danny Tismo in 1987; Santos Gunayon on January 24, 1988; Quirino Ambasing on September 28, 1988; Antonio Laguinday on July 29, 1989; Cornelio Longan on November 28, 1989; Martin Agnas on August 30, 1990; and the Sabangan massacre where they killed three children and wounded four others on May 26, 1989. Two CPLA members were convicted for the murder of Baguio-based journalist Rey Pedronio, who exposed the illegal activities of the armed group.