Mercy Bahatan, the Chairman (I don't exactly know how to address her) of the Cordillera Budong Association (CBA), the equivalent for CPP-NDF of the Cordillera Liberation Army came all the way down to Manila from the mountainous terrain of the Cordilleras to attend the wake of my cousin Edsel R. Arrieta. Edsel, plays a significant role in the peace negotiation between the CPLA and the government as I mentioned in my previous blog at http://edselarrieta.blogspot.com/ . This is how he is highly respected by the CPLA.
Manong Edsel last climbed the mountains of Agbanang, one of the stronghold of the CPLA somewhere in Ifugao to assess and propose feasible projects for the CPLA as part of the package for their peaceful return to the folds of law. It was Manong Edsel who brokered for their surrender. I was, however, informed that there is no progress as yet to these proposed projects. The proposals were referred by then Department of Agriculture Secretary Domingo "Ding" Panganiban to the BSWM and NIA for possible construction of small water impounding projects (SWIP). I was, however, informed that NIA and BSWM has no fund for the project. I am not aware who is now the Administrator of NIA, but for sure Willy Cabizon, the next in line at BSWM and a long time friend, will help us on the matter if ever we have time to talk.
Secretary Panganiban was, however, replaced by Secretary Arthur Yap in DA. I met Secretary Panganiban during the 2nd Anniversary of Usec. Robert T. Rivera's Pilipinas Ngayon Na (see my blog on the what a show! in my main page), but we don't have much time to talk about it. I am, however, sure that Secretary Yap will honor these commitments if only this information reaches him.
Anyway, it was providential that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-CAR Director Rebecca Dang-Awan called and I brought up the matter with her. Director Dang-Awan was a Division Chief of the Regulatory Division of the DA-CAR, the immediate superior of my wife Cynthia, way back in 1993 while I was still with the Board of Personnel Inquiry (BOPI), Office of the DA Secretary under Secretary Bacani followed by then Secretary Roberto "Bobot" Sebastian, the son of General Sebastian, whose aide de camp was then Lt. Fidel V. Ramos, who later became the President of the Republic of the Philippines.
By the way, Rebecca's son was a graduate of PMA Batch 1998 or 2000, if I am not mistaken. Teodoro "Teddy" Baguilat, Sr., was then the Assistant Director of DA-CAR. Teddy, who is the brother-in-law of General Brawner is the father of now Ifugao Governor, Teddy Baguilat, Jr., I hope this blog also reaches Teddy Sr., who by the way, I once helped in a case. Teddy, Sr., was a clean and honest person.
Director Dang-Awan wrote me a letter. It reads: "Sorry, we can't access to your email - anyway we were able to read your cousin's info. We want to know the exact location where do we put the project and who are the beneficiaries. Remember Ifugao is big."
By the way she writes her letter, this is the person who knows the meaning of government commitment. No wonder BFAR-CAR Director Rebecca Dang-Awan, a CESO eligible, earned the position. After her long stint with the Department of Agriculture, Dir. Dang-Awan, not for long, will soon exit government service and I am honored that we have been friends and comrade in this quest for peace.
I hope this reaches Secretary Yap, Teddy Baguilat, Sr., our friend Usec. Robert T. Rivera, Secretary Ermita and even then President Fidel V. Ramos. In our quest for peace.
I called Mercy Bahatan, who told me that she will meet with Dir. Dang-Awan next week. She was very thankful. Maybe she was wondering why I am so concerned. I just told her: "It's not just about my cousin. I was once a peace negotiator myself and we always honor our words." I just told her: "If ever this project pushes through, just name it in honor of my cousin, Edsel Rodrigazo Arrieta, whose drops of blood were left behind in the mountains of Agbanang, Ifugao."