Autonomy Scribbles

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Cordillerans worth their salt may readily say, that this time can be considered for Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) a century of reformation or change, most important in Cordilleran history.

It’s an era in which highlanders, every kindred, and of every succeeding age must be deeply interested. It is one on which, if we look back with enthusiasm, the future yields high hope of which Cordillerans anticipate with exultation. For sincerely do Cordillerans aspire that it is for the benefit of highlanders, and the country, as well.

Thus, feeling as Cordillerans do, and as all enlightened humans, Cordillerans doubt not, will do and are disposed to hail with satisfaction every attempt to elucidate the history of this important era, on the principles of sound philosophy, and of a pure and rational thinking.

Most truly has it been observed that Cordillerans ought to be serious in a serious cause and, therefore, Cordillerans should be glad to see the effects of autonomy discussed in a dignified and temperate manner, apart from the dissenter declarations of ignorant enthusiasm on the one hand, and the philosophical lukewarmness of stoical indifference on the other.

This work about pursuing autonomy could have not appeared, indeed, at this seasonable time.

Other Cordillerans recommend autonomy to the co-Cordillerans, all who respect their illustrious forefathers who, were they to appear among us today and be asked,” Do they favor autonomy?”

Indeed, the forefathers answer would definitely be a resounding yes.

Not such as the spirit of sedition or of disaffection would our forefather answer “yes to autonomy,” but rather they answer yes because of their fervent hope for unity for the Cordilleran populace and the land that is simply referred to as the highlands.

That the sentiments of today’s every highland individual concerning this important thrust so his/her liberty of thought might be known and regarded, meetings have been held, deliberations carried on by the Regional Development Council of the National Economic and Development Authority – Cordillera Administrative Region (NEDA-CAR) in every particular community, barangay and others.

That such sentiments of these highland individuals might gradually and regularly be amassed into a single point, and the conduct of each directed and inspired by the result of the whole united regional council and provincial/barangay committees, as well.

That by this means, a chain, more boundless, and, while the necessity of amassing sentiments on autonomy continues, many hope a chain of unity has been formed, of which every individual willing to heed the clarion call for autonomy has the pleasure of beholding himself/herself part of that chain.

In every issue or argument, there are two sides of a coin. Thus, it happens that in our midst, there stands those for autonomy and against autonomy. Fortunately, many of those against autonomy declare they have yet to fully understand what autonomy is all about.

A reason, reasonable, indeed. For how can an individual stay for the side of an issue if such an issue is to him/her a jumble of gobbdygook or gibberish?

Fortunately, too, that this kind of problem can be overcome by patient teaching, communication and furtherance of shared information which can be read and re-read until understanding of autonomy flows from an individual’s head like water flows from a stream or faucet. For being armed with appropriate knowledge is an education that makes it possible to defeat barriers.

Unfortunately, too, it happens there are highlanders in our midst possessed with a perverted idea of argument that the region presently being administrative in nature – thus called Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – should stay as it is, being administratively run, despite their having been enlightened about autonomy.

One cannot fathom what’s behind the logic of their reasoning except to single out that sometimes, some individuals possess a bull-headed character of opposing for the sake of an argument. Talk about being a devil’s advocate, we have scores of them.

Fortunately, too, it happens   there are highlanders in our midst possessed with the noble idea of argument that the region should become autonomous by all means, exuding confidence that autonomy for the highlands translates into what they believe, “Autonomiya ti panag dur-as ti rehion, dagiti kakailyan, highlander ka man wenno Iloko wenno sabali a rehion, ken ti entero a pag-ilian.”

One can only fathom the logic behind the reasoning of these well-meaning highlanders who stay steadfast by the sidelines but refuse to be pointed to as merely fence-sitters by directly involving themselves as “Promoters of a Cause.” Talk about God’s advocate, we have scores of them, too.

For those opposing autonomy for the sake of an argument, let it be said that the past and present counsels, deliberations, meetings and resolutions have been authorized by the weight which is much more than the scale of mere argument – the spirit of the Philippine Constitution.

For the 1987 Constitution states in Article X, Section 15: “There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera, consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The words entered into in the Constitution in Article X, Section 15, have stamped in the plainest characters the genuine and enlightened spirit of self-governance, upon the conduct observed, and the measures observed, in consequence of them.

Autonomy is, by the Philippine Constitution, of equal stability, of equal antiquity, and of equal authority, with prerogative of the Philippines territorial wholeness and its ascendancy, held sacred and absolute.

Cordillerans of today happen to live in an extraordinary age when the quest for autonomy is ripening and marked by events which will leave a durable impression upon the pages of Philippine history by their own deep-rooted importance.

And the pages of events will be read with far deeper emotions in their effects upon future ages in their consequences upon the development of Cordilleran communities and in the direct or silent changes autonomy will bring into the very structure of highland society.

Conflicts have been waged for the best and for the worst of purposes. Yet, there exists bright spots for Cordillerans where the cheering light for self-governance shines in peace, where learning unlocks its stores in various profusion for highlanders to make decisions and providing degree of control that unfolds within their communities.

Where, in this quest for self-governance, we find eloquence of people and leaders alternately consecrating the halls of legislation or astonishing the forums with its appeals.

One of the striking characteristics of this time, and that, indeed, has worked deep for the pursuit for change is the general diffusion of knowledge on autonomy. In the past, this was the privilege of the few, the reason why it failed to be accepted by the people in a referendum. Now it is a knowledge in the possession of many.

May Cordillerans put it to good use in the final end stretch of choosing for self-governance.

A new path is thus open for Cordillerans the right to secure for themselves their location of ancestry, chart their economic development suited to the land, preserve and enhance their cultural identity and create a self-governing system within the framework of national dominion and the Philippine Constitution.

Let us pause, fellow Cordillerans, before we shake our heads against autonomy.  The fate of us, the fate of millions of Cordillerans, the fate of thousands yet unborn, depends upon our answer.

The unrestrained right to private judgement, the glorious privilege of free conscience – after learning about autonomy – now beckons all and sundry in the Cordillera to justify themselves in choosing what is best.

Let our choosing for what is best for our region then be an obligation. An obligation that will later translate not only for our betterment but for future highlander generations. Let us leave that obligation to them as a legacy.

Let it not be imagined that, in the present state of things, for the pursuit of autonomy, there is nothing for regret and nothing for admonition that we did not do our best – like what happened in the past.

Let our clamor for autonomy be the result of calmness and determination, dictated by the principles of loyalty to the Constitution and the principles of self-governing liberty.

The subject is of great importance as it relates to the highlands, and still greater to our own; we must move as one on grounds, certain.

Because when we attempt to penetrate into futurity, after exerting the utmost powers of reason, aided by all the lights about autonomy, our clearest conceptions are involved.

Many things may happen, which is impossible to conjecture, and which may influence the course of events for autonomy having best chance of passing in the House of Representatives.

Still, let our answer be as such, “we are for autonomy,” so that as never, in the worst events, History will give reason to reproach us for having done too little to achieve the dream for autonomy.