Saturday, May 10, 2008


It was almost a year ago, on May 13, 2008, when Usec. Nonoy Catura of the Office of Executive Secretary paid his last respect to a pioneer Peace Advocate at the Office of the President’s Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). Usec. Nonoy Catura himself has been with OPAPP together with Secretary Ermita before they moved into the Executive Secretary’s Office of the Office of the President. In days that follow Mercy Bahatan, a high ranking official of the CPLA paid tribute to the man who, not known to the public including his family, brokered many peace negotiations with the separatist movement in MIndanao, NPA-NDF and the CPLA in Ifugao: Edsel Rodrigazo Arrieta. Atty. Abundio R. Arrieta, Jr., former Undersecretary of the Commission on Appointment, Senate of the Philippines and the Project Director of the Foundation (General Mateo Noriel Luga Foundation) we are establishing and former Senior Executive Assistant of the National Irrigation Administration, Roy R. Luga, among others, were also present.

Edsel Arrieta spent the prime years of his life negotiating for the peaceful return of our lost brothers who were misguided because of the hardship they suffered from the few who prefers to exploit the weak. At times, he becomes subject of suspicion not only of the left, but also of the right because of his sincerity to keep the words he gave not to divulge the identity of persons he is dealing with while in the process of negotiation. Months before his death Manong Edsel traveled to the Mountainous terrain of the Cordilleras to meet with undisclosed personalities. With a companion, they walked by foot for hours to reach the rendezvous agreed upon. In the process, he slipped while negotiating for his feet to land on a firm surface, but flip instead. He suffered an injury afterwards. Now overtaken by age and his diabetes, it was the last time my cousin set foot to the mountains to find peace. In his grave now lies the secret of those he helped, the families of those he shielded for their safe and peaceful return to the society. He now found peace of his own.

Mercy Bahatan, told Us that Edsel promised to work it out with the government to provide livelihood projects to the CPLA surrenderees before he died. Today, after almost a year after his death, the CPLA surrenderees somewhere in Ifugao shall harvest Tilapias from the ponds they developed with the help of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. It was upon the effort of Director Rebecca Dang-Awan, her worthy Assistant Director Lilibeth Lapuz Signey with the support of Usec. Nonoy Catura and Usec. Robert T. Rivera of the Office of the Press Secretary, Office of the President, who are peace advocates themselves, that made Edsel Arrieta's promised a reality. His death has given meaning and life to the people of the Cordillera. It has given peace a chance for development to intervene, it has given a simple Cordilleran to have peace of their own and a food to lay on their table.

Today, Director Rebecca Dang-Awan, who has been with us since her days as a Division Chief in Department of Agriculture-CAR, is near retiring. Her Assistant, ARD Lilibeth Lapuz Signey has been relentlessly contnuing her efforts and advocacies for the torch of peace and progress in the Cordilleras to move-on by envisioning to build a community to further propagate the seed planted by our fallen brother to grow and bear more fruits, an advocacy upon which the General Mateo Noriel Luga Foundation shall be built.

In honor of Edsel Rodrigazo Arrieta and in acknowledgement of the BFAR-CAR's relentless effort to provide a peaceful and progressive Cordillera:

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