Balweg Widow Dies

From Sunstar Baguio we learn that Corazon Cortel-Balweg, widow of former rebel priest Conrado Balweg died of a heart attack last Monday. She is survived by five children the youngest of whom is still in elementary school. Our condolences to her family.

Sunstar Baguio:

Corazon Cortel-Balweg, a New People’s Army (NPA) active amazon in the 1980s and widow of rebel priest Conrado Balweg, died Monday afternoon of cardiac arrest at Camp Upi in Gamu, Isabela.

Corazon, 48, and her group were on their way to the Philippine Army’s (PA) 5th Infantry Division camp to follow up and monitor livelihood programs for members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) when she felt heart pains then collapsed.

Mrs. Balweg is the CPLA’s chief of staff, a position she held since the assassination of the rebel priest in his hometown in Malibcong, Abra on December 31, 1999.

Former Bucloc, Abra mayor Mailed Molina, the incumbent CPLA chairman, confirmed the death of Mrs. Balweg after receiving a call from Major General Melchor Dilodilo, commander of the 5th ID in Gamu.

Colonel James Jacob of Camp Upi in a text message said Mrs. Balweg died at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

According to Molina, Mrs. Balweg and her group were on their way from a field visit in Tabuk, Kalinga when Corazon complained of chest pains followed by vomiting. They were already at the army camp gate when she collapsed. She was rushed to the camp hospital where attempts to revive her failed.

Sources said the body of Mrs. Balweg will be transported to their residential house in Bangued, Abra and probably laid beside her husband at the Bangued Public Cemetery.

Mrs. Balweg left five children. The youngest is still in elementary.

Prior to her death, Mrs. Balweg and her team were monitoring livelihood projects downloaded to cooperatives of former CPLA members. She is also following up the additional integration of CPLA members to the PA.

Fr. Balweg broke away from the NPA and set up the CPLA. He entered into a peaceful agreement with government on September 13, 1987, which paved the way for the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Fr. Balweg opposed CPLA integration to government forces but after his death, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Administrative Order 18 on August 3, 2001 which provided for the integration of 1,200 CPLA members as officers, enlisted personnel and Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) active auxiliaries. At least 264 officers and enlisted personnel and three companies of auxiliaries were accommodated in 2001 but the livelihood component to accommodate 408 members never materialized.

Mrs. Balweg requested for additional CPLA integration slots, which was promised in December 2006 but was never implemented. The agreement, which is still subject to the approval of the President, commits to integrate 48 CPLA members in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regular service. Five will become officers while 43 will become enlisted personnel. In addition, other CPLA’s will be accommodated in at least three companies in the Civilian Auxilliary Service or Cafgu. (MG)

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