BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) supports the region’s renewed quest for autonomy by the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) because it has the legal framework to stand on vis-à-vis the planned shift from presidential to federal form of government being advocated by the present administration.
Dr. Rosario Manasan, PIDS public finance expert, said the quest for regional autonomy as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution is aligned with the present administration’s bid to change the form of government to federal, thus, Cordillerans can proceed with their quest for autonomy as autonomous regions can exist within established federal states like in countries that have embraced federal form of government.
The PIDS official underscored autonomy and federalism are both anchored on decentralization and the devolution of resources from the national to the local governments and for local governments to have greater control of resources primarily geared towards the development of the host communities.
“The Cordillera can pursue its clamor for regional autonomy as provided for in the Constitution, thus, there is legal basis for the national government to support the region’s quest for autonomy even if as it pursues the shift to federal form of government,” Manasan stressed.
She admitted the absence of the form and design of the proposed federal form of government is the primary hindrance why the shift to federal form of government is not actually being aggressively pursued by advocates as the most frequently asked question from the public is how the county will be divided into federal states.
According to her, the shift to federal form of government will also take a longer period of time, like up to 10 years, because the federal and state constitutions must be crafted.
Further, Manasan agreed that among the issues that must be addressed by federalism advocates include the payment of the existing national debt, the distribution of the employees of agencies who will be displaced from the central government and their reassignment to the federal states and the provisions on the equalizing provisions for less developed regions.
However, the PIDS official claimed that the inclusion of the equalization provision in the state constitution of less developed federal states should be given a timeframe to avoid taxing too the developed federal states.
She commended the Cordillera for having sustained the clamor for autonomy over the past three decades, underscoring the importance of establishing a permanent identity for the Cordillerans and ensuring the preservation and protection of its rich culture and heritage.
Pertinent provisions of the 1987 Constitution mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera. By HENT