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BAGUIO CITY – Undersecretary Nabel Tan of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process disclosed President Rodrigo R. Duterte is inclined to certify as priority administration bills the proposed autonomy law for the Cordillera and the enabling law for the Bangsamoro.
Tan, who represented Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza during the one-day Knowledge Sharing on Autonomy, Federalism and Peace for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARM) held at the Makati-based Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Conference Center, said autonomy advocates in the Cordillera and Mindanao will be assured of the Palace certification on the two priority administration measures once the President finishes reviewing the provisions of House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that seeks to establish an Autonomous Region of the Cordillera and the enabling law for the Bangsamoro which has already been finalized by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and ready for transmittal to the Office of the President.
“There will always be challenges and obstacles but we should not let the challenges define our path for the realization of the constitutional mandate of establishing autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao,” Tan stressed.
With regard the recommendation of the delegates for the President to include the Cordillera and Mindanao issues in his upcoming State of the National Address (SONA), Undersecretary Tan said OPAPP will refer the matter to the secretariat for the President’s SONA for consideration but what is important is that the two legislative measures will be certified as priority administration bills.
During the knowledge sharing, Cordillera and Mindanao delegates agreed that the quest for autonomy is political and for the Cordillerans, autonomy means the decentralization of administration while for the Muslims, it would connote the decentralization of powers of the central government.
For the Cordillerans who were mostly represented by officials of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA) and the fragmented Cordillera Liberation Army (CPLA), autonomy is basically anchored on the recognition of the region’s permanent identity and the recognition of the land of the indigenous peoples (IP) through history and culture while for the Muslims who were represented by officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the ARMM and two Commissioners of the BTC, autonomy is sovereignty based.
Cordillerans and Muslims agreed to conduct an in-depth study on the configuration of the Cordillera andBangsamoro autonomous regions existing within the federal states that will be established once there will be a shift in the form of government and the financial viability of having separate Cordillera and Bangsamoro federal states.
The delegates also proposed for the review and eventual modification of the Regalian doctrine of ownership of lands as enshrined in the Constitution to make sure that IPs will not be deprived of owning the lands which their ancestors have passed on to them since time in memorial.