BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan admitted that the Cordillera cannot exist as an independent federal state based on the concept of federalism, thus, the practical means available for the region to be intact once the planed shift to federal form of government will be realized is through the realization of the renewed quest for regional autonomy.
The local chief executive revealed that based on the actual collections of taxes of the Cordillera office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR-CAR) last year, the 80 percent share of the region is not even sufficient to sustain the operation of the federal state aside from the share that will be provided to the national government among other unsettled obligations.
In 2016, BIR-CAR was able to collect more than P5.2 billion in taxes regionwide with 80 percent of the taxes generated in Baguio City alone, thus, if the federal state will retain the 80 percent of the taxes, then it will only have around P3.9 billion only which will not be even enough to sustain the operation of the federal government apart from the share of the region in the payment of the country’s domestic and foreign debts and the share of the federal government which is mandated to be submitted to the national coffers.
In the autonomous set up, Domogan explained the regional autonomous government will be entitled to the funding requirements from the national government aside from the share of the local governments and the regional government from the subsidy to be provided by the national government to the tune of P75 billion for the first ten years of its existence and the over P28 billion allocation of the regional line agencies annually which will be solely spent in the region.
Further, he pointed out the Cordillera will be in a better position to be intact as one once it will be able to achieve autonomy before the realization of the government’s move to change the form of government to federal through the amendment of the pertinent provisions of the 1987 Constitution and that an autonomous region can legally exist within a federal state and that the State Constitution will be mandated to recognize the existence of the autonomous region without diminution of its rights and privileges.
Domogan claimed the Cordillera will beaten up by the larger provinces in the Northern Luzon federal state like Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Isabela among others which actually have bigger population and land area, thus, Cordillerans will have no chance at all to be given the representations to whatever elective positions that will be made available in the federal state.
According to him, Cordillerns already experience discrimination when the different cities and provinces were part of Regions I and II, thus, the only chance for the region to be intact and survive as one will be the realization of the establishment of the autonomous region wherein Cordillerans will have the chance to independently government themselves and maximize the utilization of its rich resources for the development of remote villages and spur economic growth in the future.
He added that the best chance for the Cordillera to achieve autonomy is during the present administration because of the support shown by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte to the region’s renewed quest for autonomy wherein his certification is being awaited to make the proposed autonomy bill as an urgent administration measure.
By Dexter A. See