Upi, Isabela: Over 150 former rebels under the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) are now integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) following their “graduation ceremonies” at Camp Melchor de la Cruz on Wednesday.
The “integrated graduates” were welcomed into the government force by AFP chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, guest of honor and speaker, who encouraged the new soldiers to uphold the institution and help in attaining peace and unity in the Cordilleras.
The AFP Public Affairs Officer of the Fifth Infantry Division said this is the laåst batch of the CPLA, thus, “the integration component of the peace process for the CPLA has finally come to an end.”
“These are the [CPLA] sons and daughters who completed their training and had pledged allegiance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in service of the Filipino people,” Leonero said.
He said that since 2002, the AFP had already accepted a total of 668 CPLA integrees, 448 of them were integrated only this year.
Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of the Public Affairs Division of the 5ID, said that the peace process for the CPLA was achieved in collaboration with different government agencies and with the support of all stakeholders in the government and civilian sectors.
Magundayao said the beneficiaries of the integration program surrendered 152 firearms of different calibers as part of the “demobilization and rehabilitation [DDR] process” for the former members of the CPLA.
He said that for the past four years, 403 CPLA firearms were surrendered to the 5ID.
To recall, the peace process started when then President Corazon Aquino and “renegade” Catholic priest Conrado Balweg of the CPLA signed the peace agreement or the “Sipat” which had experienced rough processes for about 27 years.