ILAGAN CITY: A leading Cordillera peace advocate was hurt in a hand grenade blast on Monday morning right inside the military camp of the 5th Infantry Division (5th ID) in Gamu, Isabela, reports said.
Injured in the blast was Felipe Cariño, Vice Chairman of the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development Inc. (CFPDI), a group pushing for the integration of members of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Front (CPLA).
The group of Cariño was in Gamu’s Army camp to witness the scheduled opening of Candidate Soldier Course Class (CSCC) on Wednesday for the CPLA integrees.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was expected to grace the said event.
First Lt. Rowena Abayon, 5th ID’s Division Public Affairs Officer, said that an explosion transpired at the vicinity of the Philippine Army Assistance for Rural Advancement on Literacy (Paaral) building at about 9:45 a.m.
Abayon said a hand grenade exploded under a Mitsubishi van (RDF 411) with seven passengers including Cariño. The other passengers were unscathed.
Reports said Cariño sustained injury on his lower extremities while the van’s front windshield was shattered, its front tires blown out.
Cariño was immediately brought to 5ID Station Hospital for medical treatment.
Abayon said that, despite this isolated incident, the Army’s 5ID leadership will still push through with the activity for the integration of CPLA members.
The CFPDI Candidate Soldier applicants were at the 5ID Headquarters since January this year for processing as part of their integration into the regular force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The CPLA member integration was an offshoot of the Peace Accord signed at Mount Data, Bauco town in Mountain Province on September 13, 1986 between the Corazon Aquino government and priest rebel Conrado Balweg.
This has led to the cessation of hostilities between the CPLA and government forces.
Signed by then President Aquino, Executive Order 49 mandates the implementation of the Closure Agreement towards the CPLA’s final Disposition of Arms and Forces and its transformation into a potent socio-economic and unarmed force.