Baguio renews support to Cordillera autonomy

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BAGUIO CITY – City officials reiterated the full support of the local government towards the attainment of Cordillera regional autonomy as embodied in House Bill Nos. 5687 and 7778 and Senate Bill No. 1232.

Under Resolution No. 267, series of 2021 signed by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, local legislators stated that the long-time quest for Cordillera regional autonomy refers to the campaign for greater autonomy for the Cordillera that aims for people empowerment by establishing a permanent Cordillera identity and policies that shall be more responsive to the present and future peculiar needs of the region and holistic progress for all.

The council pointed that the full support of the city towards Cordillera regional autonomy and to push for the realization of an autonomous Cordillera was declared through Resolution No. 227, series of 2019 that was furnished both chambers of Congress of the Philippines as guide for whatever actin to be taken on the pending bills seeking for the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera.

Earlier, the House committee on local government chaired by Tarlac 3rd District Rep. Noel Villaneuva recently conducted its required deliberations on HB Nos. 5687 and 7778 and that a technical working group composed of Cordillera congressmen and all the regional directors of line agencies was created to ensure the constitutionality of the filed bills and that there are no existing laws in conflict with the said legislative measures.

Section 15 Article 10 of the Philippine Constitution provides that there shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cites, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of the Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

On December 2, 2019, HB No. 5687 was filed unanimously by all cordillera congressmen, on December 11, 2019, Senate Bill 1232 was filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and on September 27, 2020, HB No. 7778 was filed by Benguet caretaker congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap, all towards the establishment of an Autonomous Region in the Cordillera.

In 2006, the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera embraced autonomy as one of its overarching agenda towards the establishment of the desired autonomous region as autonomy has been projected to spur rural development that will help move people out from the shackles of poverty primarily because the regional government will be given a chance to manage the region’s available resources with lesser restraint from outside forces.

Autonomy advocates remain hopeful that both chambers of Congress will pass the pending bills for the establishment of the autonomous region the soonest so that President Rodrigo Duterte will be able to sign the same into law to pave the realization of the constitutional provision mandating the put up of the regional government in the Cordillera.

By Dexter A. See

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