BAGUIO CITY – A member of the Constitutional Committee (ConCom) created by President Rodrigo Duterte to review the possible amendments of the 1987 Constitution underscored the importance of autonomy advocates not deviating from the earlier overall plan of autonomy first towards federalism because of the continuous support that Cordillerans continue to get from Muslim leaders.
Dr. Virgilio Bautista, one of the members of the ConCom from the Cordillera, said that Prof. Eddie Ali, one of his colleagues in the 19member body, lawyer Bong Parcacio of the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) and Speaker Eddie Balindong of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) House of Representatives committed to support the passage of the proposed bill seeking to establish the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) once subjected to plenary debates in the House.
He pointed out that Cordillerans must take advantage of the standing commitment of Muslim leaders and congressmen in supporting the passage of the proposed autonomy law because President Duterte already provide for the enabling environment for the region to achieve autonomy during his presidency.
Aside from Bautista, a well-known educator from Baguio city, President Duterte also appointed former killing Rep. Lawrence Wacnang to be part of the 19-member body that crafted the Bayanihan federal charter which was mutilated in the House during the incumbency of former President and former House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The ConCom member explained that the stand of the Regional development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera which is autonomy first towards federalism is pursuant to the provisions of the Bayanihan federal charter considering that the Cordillera and Bangsamoro regions were maintained as special federal regions part from the 16 regular regions that currently compose the Philippine archipelago.
“We beg to disagree to those who continue to derail our efforts towards achieving autonomy because autonomy is still the best option to maintain the unity of the Cordillera local governments. We believe that those who continue to despise our efforts towards self-governance are either misinformed or refuse to understand the real essence of autonomy not only for the present but also for the future generations of Cordillerans,” Bautista stressed.
It can be recalled that during the hearing that was called for by the House committee on local government on the proposed autonomy bill for the cordillera on August 14, 218, Muslim congressmen committed their unwavering support to the passage of the proposed measure to reciprocate the support shown by the cordillera congressmen in the passage and eventual enactment into law of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that paved the way for the creation of the BARMM which is now nearing its first year of existence.
Bautista asserted that the region’s renewed quest for autonomy has the legal and constitutional basis to stand on unlike the planned shift to federal form of government which must still undergo the revision of the 1987 constitution before it will be able to push through to ensure the proper devolution of powers and resources that will translate to regional development in the different parts of the country.