BAGUIO CITY – Cordillera autonomy advocates continue to gain allies from the Cabinet members of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to boost the chances of significantly advancing the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy towards the administration’s planned shift from presidential unitary to a federal form of government.
This developed as Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar committed to supporting the region’s third attempt to achieve autonomy as it is aligned with the Duterte administration’s desire to empower local governments and have a better share of the country’s available resources.
Aside from committing to follow-up the release of the President’s certification that the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill, House Bill (HB) 5343, is an urgent administration measure, Secretary Andanar also promised using the available resources of PCOO for the aggressive information and education campaign of the region on autonomy to reach out to majority of the Cordillerans in the countryside to raise their awareness on the real essence of autonomy to them.
The PCOO chief made the commitment before local chief executives from the different parts of the region during a meeting at the Baguio Country Club last Saturday where he also promised local leaders of the administration’s sustained engagement of concerned stakeholders to advance the President’s progress for all agenda.
PCOO Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Paz R. Banaag said the agency will be closely working with the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera to help in the production of the needed information materials to cascade to the grassroots level the importance of achieving autonomy for the region as the region’s policy-making body already embarked on the realization of autonomy before federalism to place the Cordillera in a better position of being intact before the nation will be divided into federal states.
Earlier, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza vowed to champion the region’s renewed quest for autonomy with President Duterte which resulted in the meeting of the Chief Executive with almost all Cordillera leaders inside the Malacañang Palace last July 18, 2017 where the President committed to certifying HB 5343 as urgent priority administration measure side by side with the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is still be submitted to Congress for approval.
Dureza underscored the legality of an autonomous region within a federal state, thus, Cordillerans must take advantage of the President’s support to autonomy by ratifying the law that will be passed in Congress so that the region will have a better leverage in coexisting in whatever federal state that will be established once there will be a shift to federal form of government in the future.
Autonomy advocates asserted self-rule will definitely propel economic growth and will contribute to moving people out from the shackles of poverty because the regional government will have greater control of its resources that could be plowed back to the people for enhanced development, especially in remote villages around the region.