BAUKO, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE – The governments of Kalinga and Mountain Province inked a peace covenant here on Tuesday, vowing to continue upholding peace and harmony between the people of the two provinces.
The Mount Data Peace Covenant of 2022, the first written peace agreement between two local chief executives in the region, was signed by Kalinga Governor James Edubba and Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr.
The agreement was witnessed by Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. and local leaders Andres Ngao-I, president of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA), and Thomas Killip, former Sagada mayor and a consultant of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).
The peace covenant is a milestone in the Philippine peace process, as it was signed by two governors who pledged to strengthen the political and cultural relationship of their provinces.
“This will never be forgotten because it is a historic moment made on a similarly historic event,” said Killip, who initiated the forging of the peace covenant.
The Mount Data Peace Covenant of 2022 was among the highlights of the 36th commemoration of the Mount Data Peace Accord which put an end to hostilities between the government and rebel group Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) on Sept. 13, 1986.
Both peace agreements were signed at the Mount Data Hotel.
According to Galvez, the peace covenant aims to further strengthen the partnership between the two provinces and lead to more peaceful and progressive communities.
“May this pact result in greater understanding and cooperation between and among the areas you govern. Thank you to all of you for being a symbol of unity in the Cordillera,” Galvez told the governors.
The covenant stated that, bearing in mind the values that the people of the Cordillera uphold, be these traditional or not, the governors pledge “with integrity of purpose to make our political and cultural relationship a prosperous one where our people can live, work and play together in peace and harmony.”
“We shall oppose and discourage any action that may aggravate existing conflicts so as not to endanger peace processes and peaceful conflict resolution,” the document further said.
“We affirm the just settlement of inter-boundary disputes by peaceful means through negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to agencies and other diplomatic approaches, which do not endanger national peace and security and justice. We shall oppose and discourage actions that may aggravate existing conflicts so as not to endanger peace processes and peaceful conflict resolution,” it added.
A peace settlement is ongoing between the cultural communities of Butbut in Kalinga and Betwagan in Mountain Province to settle a traditional boundary conflict.
With the signing of the peace covenant, hopes are high that the boundary conflict, which has lasted for almost two decades will finally be resolved.*