Cordi leaders commit support to reg’l autonomy quest


TABUK CITY, Kalinga  – Leaders from the different local governments comprising the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) renewed their unrelenting and uncompromising commitment in aggressively advancing the region’s quest for the establishment of the coveted Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) taking advantage of the enabling environment provided by the President Rodrigo R. Duterte to achieve the long overdue clamor for self-governance.

Majority of the Cordillera leaders attended the recently concluded culminating program of the 32nd CAR founding anniversary that was held at the Kalinga Sports Center on July 15, 2019 wherein observers described the same as one of the well-attended celebrations of the region’s anniversary.

Abra Vice governor Ronald Balao-as, who represented Abra Gov. Maria Jocelyn V. Bernos, reiterated the support of the people of the province in the uphill climb towards autonomy considering its expected positive impact in advancing the growth and development of remote communities around the region.

He urged autonomy advocates to strengthen the ongoing information education campaign to be able to reach out to the grassroots level for people to be convinced in voting in favour of autonomy once the Organic Act that will be passed by Congress will be presented to the people for ratification in a plebiscite that will be scheduled for the purpose.

For her part, Apayao Gov. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang pointed out that the people of her province are eagerly awaiting the passage of the autonomy law considering that they are inclined to favour the same considering that it was only Apayao that ratified Republic Act (RA) 8438 or the second Organic Act when it was submitted to the Cordillerans for ratification on March 7, 1998.

She claimed that a lot can be done by the autonomous regional government when the region will be converted to autonomus status because it will be the one to decide the development thrusts of the Cordillera pursuant to the prevailing condition which will result to overall rural development.

On the other hand, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong committed the support of the people and officialdom to the region’s third attempt in achieving autonomy pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution, asserting the need to establish a strong multi-sectoral lobby group that will be able to advance the passage of the proposed autonomy law in the 18th Congress.

He assured concerned stakeholders in the region that the city officials will do their part in making people understand the true essence of autonomy to the overall state of the region vis-à-vis the desired shift to federal form of government being advocated by the present administration.

Benguet Gov. Dr. Melchor D. Diclas asserted that the people of Benguet will not be left behind in supporting the region’s quest for autonomy because it is important for the region to achieve self-rule considering the peculiar section of the local governments comprising the Cordillera aside from the fact that autonomy will ensure the greater control of resources by the regional government with lesser restraint from outside forces.

He urged Cordilleras to continue the unity that they have nurtured over the past three decades and covert the same to a resounding vote in favour of autonomy once the proposed Organic Act will be submitted to the people for ratification.

Ifugao Gov. Jerry Dalipog claimed that the over three decades of clamouring for autonomy is already too much that is why Cordillerans must start rethinking their positions on the quest for autonomy considering that they should not allow the clamor for self-governance to be overtaken by events that will lead to the eventual breakup of the region, thus, it is appropriate to embrace the current position of the Regional Development Council which is autonomy first towards federalism.

He said that the people of Ifugao will be simply waiting for whatever developments that will unfurl on the move of the lawmakers to file the bill for the establishment of the autonomous region so that they will vote in favour of it once submitted to them for ratification.

Kalinga Gov. Ferdinand Tubban stipulated that the region should achieve autonomy during the term of the present administration because of the support being shown by no less than the President so that the sacrifices of our forefathers will be given justice once the region will become autonomous by virtue of a law that will be passed in Congress and subsequently ratified by the people.

He urged lawmakers to fastrack the crafting of the proposed autonomy law and for them to file the same in the 18th Congress so that they will have a legacy to speak of once it will be passed and ratified by the people during a plebiscite.

Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr. emphasized that the people and officialdom of the province remain committed to what had been time and again reiterated which is their support to the snowballing clamor for autonomy but there is still a need to enhance the grassroots level of informing and educating the people on the advantages once the region will be concerted into an autonomous region.

Lacwasan said that considering that Mountain Province will the host of next year’s celebration of the CAR founding anniversary, it should be the last because what will be celebrated in the coming years will be the establishment of the autonomous region.

CAR was born by virtue of Executive Order N. 220 signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino that brought together the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province and Baguio City from Region I and the provinces of Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao from Region II.