Last October 22-23, 2019, the National Economic Development Authority-Cordillera Administrative Region (NEDA-CAR) called for an Inter-agency workshop designed to clarify the functions and expenditure assignments of the proposed Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC). Representatives of various national line agencies, local government units, private sector representatives convened at the Newtown Plaza Hotel and conducted the workshops.
The workshop intended to come up with estimates of the corresponding budgetary requirements under an ARC. While it is premature to state what particular agencies are to be devolved, the activity aimed to project needed resources within a 10-year period given the approval of proposed law on autonomy. It also included proposed modifications or additions to existing plans, programs and activities. The activity emphasized on the need to identify existing mandates of various units to be adapted and be aligned with the intentions of the proposed autonomy bill.
Having the NEDA-CAR as facilitators of the activity, the workshop process employed the performance informed budgeting framework currently used in government budgeting.
As the activity touched on the use of resources, the facilitators pointed out that the results can still be used even when the autonomy is not immediately realized. The outputs can serve as a reference in future investment programming and budgeting.
Presentations of outputs were done on the 2nd day by the different sectors that agreed on common areas of concern. As the outputs per agency were not fully discussed by all agency personnel and management, it was suggested that this shall be finalized for submission to the Secretariat on or before October 28, 2019.
I am thankful to my superiors for the involvement in the activity. I gained insights on how various agencies prepare for the future of the region. It further reinforced my knowledge on the significance of self-determination.
As a community with distinct culture, residents of the Cordillera assert their rights and the need to respect the uniqueness of their social, economic, political and cultural practices. While modern public administration may have been embraced by political leaders of the region, situation calls for understanding the importance of indigenous knowledge and the unique cultural practices that can ensure sustainable development. Proof of this is the recognition of the United Nations and other international bodies on the need to respect clamors for self-determination.
Equally important is the growing number of peoples’ organization like cooperatives. As to cooperative concerns the move for additional manpower and budget intended to address the needs of registered cooperatives is necessary. Major areas of concern would be on the aspects of Registration, Regulation, Development and Quasi-Judicial Functions.
Under an autonomous region, it is envisioned that strengthening cooperatives lead to the creation of more jobs that can employ local residents. It is perceived that harnessing of locally available resources and introduction of innovations to existing cooperative practices can bolster socio-economic growth and development.
Finally, as responsible citizens residing and working in the Cordillera, let us not dwell on the results of the previous attempts for autonomy. Instead, let us be involved and chase our dream for self-determination. To all cooperative members and community residents let us join hands and be part of the team to advance self-rule.