Around this time, the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) of Conrado Balweg had split from the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army in the region. The CPLA was soon coddled by the Aquino government after the much publicized peace talks and sipat held in Mt. Data in September 1986. On July 15, 1987, Aquino signed Executive Order 220 creating the Cordillera Executive Board (CEB) and the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) as transitional bodies to work towards the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region after the ratification of an Organic Act as defined in the Constitution.
July 15 is presently celebrated as a public holiday in the Cordillera Administrative Region, in contra-position to the people’s Cordillera Day which has been commemorated since 1985 to commemorate the martyrdom of Macliing Dulag, and other Cordillera heroes.
EO 220 gave Conrado Balweg a privileged position as it institutionalized his Cordillera Bodong Administration (which had split from the Cordillera Bodong Association allied with the CPA) in the CEB-CRA. Although EO 220 stopped short of official recognition of the CPLA as the regional security force, which it had asked for, the Aquino government practically gave Conrado Balweg and the CPLA license to lord it over the new Cordillera administrative region. Many opportunists soon toadied up to them as they had the power to dispense positions, projects, and patronage in the new structures.
The CPLA even had license to murder and commit criminal acts. In 1987, they killed Daniel Ngayan in cold blood at Cagaluan Gate in Lubuagan. Ama Daniel was a tribal leader from Tanglag, leader of the Cordillera Bodong Association and vice chairperson of the CPA when he was killed. Soon after, they tortured and murdered Romy Gardo of Tubo, Abra, CPA organizer in that province. Through the years, many others became martyrs through the bloodied hands of the CPLA.
Although Conrado Balweg had the temerity to publicly acknowledge that the CPLA had killed Ngayaan and Gardo, the Aquino government never took him to task for it. Neither was the CPLA punished for their other crimes such as murder, robbery, grave threat and intimidation. The families and friends of the many victims of the CPLA did not receive any justice from the Philippine government which had simply tolerated all of their crimes.
In December 1999, the CPP-NPA in the region exacted what it called “revolutionary justice,” and killed Conrado Balweg while on a visit to his hometown. The CPLA soon broke up into factions, with some being integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and others flaunting themselves as armed goons involved in criminal activities.
The CEB-CRA-CBAd lasted from the time it was created in 1987 by EO 220 to 2000, when Congress practically abolished it by refusing to continue allocating funds for its operations. It was composed of a hodgepodge of political appointees which included Conrado Balweg and his CBAd, traditional tribal leaders who probably did not even know what regional autonomy was all about, johnnies-come-lately to the autonomy bandwagon, and the like.
In the 12 years of its existence, it accomplished nothing of significance. It was just a superfluous structure set up to accomodate political appointees, with all of the graft and corruption, inefficiency and infighting associated with such government bureaucracies. It could not even effectively conduct the educational campaign on regional autonomy that it was mandated to do.