BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan underscored the chances of President Rodrigo R. Duterte certifying House Bill (HB 5343 and Senate Bill (SB) 1678 or the bills that seek the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) has become stronger following the enactment of the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before the adjournment of the second regular session of the 17th Congress.
The local chief executive pointed out the enactment of the two proposed autonomy bills will have to pass the same route as the BBL wherein it was only certified by the President as urgent after all the pending versions were consolidated despite the presence of some constitutional issues being raised by some sectors.
“We feel discriminated but we believe that our chances of securing the President’s certification has become stronger with the enactment of the BBL considering that the proposed autonomy bills and the BBL have the same constitutional basis to work on,” Domogan stressed.
He disclosed that the House and Senate committees on local government are set to complete their programmed consultations within the next several months and recommended amendments will be incorporated in the two bills for refinement and eventual submission to the Office of the President for the issuance of the required certification of the autonomy bills as urgent to guarantee its smooth passage in both chambers of Congress.
According to him, the realization of the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera is congruent to the Duterte administration’s advocacy on the decentralization of powers and resources to allow the pace of development in the countryside to be at part with the on-going developments in the urban centers like Metro Manila.
He claimed that enactment of the BBL in both chambers of Congress and its being signed into law by the President after its passage into law in the bicameral conference committee is a welcome development because it provided the Cordillerans with a stronger position to lobby with the Office of the President the issuance of the promised certification that the pending Cordillera autonomy bills are considered priority administration measures.
Earlier, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza urged Cordillerans to be patient in waiting for the certification of the autonomy bills as an urgent administration measure by President Duterte which he promised regional leaders in a meeting with him in Malacañang on July 18, 2017 because the Chief Executive is awaiting for the results of the committee hearings and the final version of the law before issuing the certification like what happened to the BBL.
HB 5343 was authored by all the Cordillera congressmen while SB 1678 was authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Domogan called on Cordillerans to continue the aggressive information education campaign on regional autonomy in the different parts of the region to make sure that people will understand the benefits of establishing an autonomous region once the autonomy law will be submitted to them for ratification during a plebiscite that will be scheduled for the said purpose.
Autonomy advocates believe that the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera will guarantee greater chances of better development due to the maximum utilization of the region’s resources with lesser restraint from outside forces.
By Dexter A. See