REST IN PEACE. Expressions of sympathy and sadness pour in after the death on Jan. 29, 2022 of Sadanga, Mountain Province Mayor Gabino Ganggangan (3rd from left), who is shown in this undated file photo. The late mayor was a strong oppositor of the CPP-NPA communist terrorist group and a staunch advocate of peace and autonomy in the Cordillera region. (PNA file photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – Government officials and friends grieve over the sudden death of Sadanga, Mountain Province Mayor Gabino Ganggangan, a staunch advocate of the region's peace and development.

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson and Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, in a social media post on Wednesday, said: “One moment, we were talking about the bridge he wanted to be built for his beloved Sadanga and how we would finally defeat the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) and in the next moment, he was gone. Like a giant bird from the sky swooped down and snatched him from us.”

Badoy further wrote on her social media page: “Yes, us. Because even as he passionately loved and championed the people of Sadanga and even as all his waking hours were about how to make lives better for the people he was duty-bound and heart-bound to serve (this was what we spoke about 90 percent of the time), he was, for all intents and purposes, the Filipino people’s too.”

She added that the late mayor "inspired us all and you taught us how to stand proud and tall–like a Cordilleran–and how to hold a spear and how to thrust that spear in the heart of the monsters before us. Our hearts lie broken, Manong Mayor, at your sudden leave-taking.”

Cabinet Officer for Regional Development-Cordillera (CORDS) Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, in a separate post, said “on behalf of Office of the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development-CAR, Department of Agriculture, the ELCAC teams at the national, regional, provincial, and local levels, extends the deepest sympathy to the family, the community of Sadanga, and friends of Mayor Gabino Ganggangan.”

“Mayor Gabi, as he is fondly called by his friends and co-workers, is a man of principle and conviction. He committed and dedicated his adult life to working for causes he believes to serve the best interest of his constituents and fellow Cordillerans. These causes include autonomy for the Cordillera, peace, and community development,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a press release sent to the media, Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee, Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCor) chief, said “Hon. Ganggangan was known for inspiring his people through his exemplary public service and his strong opposition against the CPP-NPA-NDF by exposing their deceptive propaganda and recruitment."

Ganggangan was a witness to the signing of the Mount Data accord between the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) and the Philippine government in 1987 that led to the issuance of Executive Order 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region.

After President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance of EO 70 in 2018, the mayor openly expressed his support and gave talks about how the NPA has misled the people, especially the people in the Cordillera.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, he slammed the leftist organizations on social media about how the communist front groups use the indigenous peoples in their money-making activities in the guise of helping the tribal communities.

Ganggangan suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the Bontoc General Hospital but passed away before midnight on January 29. (PNA)