Cordillera Reps ensure continued efforts for regional autonomy

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QUEZON CITY – Congressmen Mark Go of Baguio City, Maximo Dalog, Jr. of Mountain Province, Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga, and Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao gave their insights and updates on the filing of the proposed Act to establish the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera during the visit of the partners of the Cordillera Regional Development Council to the offices of all CAR Congressmen on September 11. The partners together with NEDA-CAR visited and discussed the proposed amendments to the draft Cordillera Organic Law filed in the 17th Congress. The proposed amendments were prepared by the RDC-mandated Organic Law Drafting Committee and endorsed by the RDC-RPOC during the 3rd Quarter meeting last August 8 in Baguio City.

Congressman Go emphasized that the bill concerns the entire region and development should be spread throughout and not just in Baguio City. Go said, “we are working hard for the whole Cordillera”. The representative of Baguio City earlier urged the RDC and the Congressmen to have a meeting specifically to discuss the bill.

The establishment of an Autonomous Region of the Cordillera is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga said “it is our obligation as representatives of the Cordillera”. Mangaoang aims to file the bill as soon as possible and ensured the partners that he will be working together with the other Cordillera Congressmen for its passage in Congress.

Maximo Dalog, Jr. likewise aims for the immediate filing of the bill. As the son of longtime Mountain Province leader Maximo Dalog, Sr., the Congressman expressed his belief in the benefits of autonomy and self-determination for the development of the Cordillera. He added that it would be beneficial to have certain customary laws and practices be institutionalized through the autonomous government.

Congressman Chungalao assured that he supports the renewed pursuit for Cordillera autonomy as he had in the earlier attempts. The representative from Ifugao cited his continued quest to give the host communities of watersheds and environmental protection sites their just due. It can be recalled that Congressman Chungalao had been a staunch advocate of environmental rights and resource use compensation as Ifugao is a major water source to the Magat River Dam which is situated in the adjacent province of Isabela. Chungalao echoed the sentiments of the other Congressmen and emphasized the need to meet with the RDC regarding the draft bill.

The RDC Executive Committee recently agreed to support the Congressmen and have them included as members of the Cordillera RDC to enhance coordination towards the common agenda of regional development. Congressman Elias Bulut of Apayao earlier requested the RDC to include the CAR Congressmen as members of the RDC.

By Marlo T. Lubguban

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