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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The region’s quest for autonomy got a big boost after Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap filed House Bill (HB) 7778 that seeks to establish the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) which is the same as HB 5687 authored by all Cordillera congressmen for the creation of the ARC.
Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang and Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr. stated that the initiative of Congressman Yap to file a similar proposed autonomy bill is a welcome development that will contribute in the existing efforts of autonomy advocates to advance the deliberations of the bill in Congress.
Mangaoang pointed out that the action of the lawmaker in filing the proposed autonomy bill for the Cordillera only shows that he is openly embracing the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples in the region and is willing to be a valuable personality in achieving a milestone for the Cordillera through the realization of the long overdue aspirations of the people for self-governance.
He claimed that Cordillera congressmen have expressed their willingness to take a back seat and be co-authors of the autonomy bill to give way for Congressman Yap to be the principal author of the same.
Last year, all Cordillera congressmen filed HB 5687 that seeks to establish the ARC where the same was immediately referred to the House committee on local government chaired by Tarlac 3rd District Rep. Noel Villanueva, who earlier expressed his all-out support for the creation of the autonomous region pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution.
For his part, Congressman Dalog stated that what Congressman Yap showed is a sign that he is with the Cordillerans in the continuous clamor for autonomy and that he will be of big help to the lawmakers in securing the coveted certification from the Office of the President that the pending measure is a priority administration bill so that action on the matter by Congress will be fastracked.
The Mountain Province lawmaker pointed out that it is important for the Cordillera congressmen to continue seeking for allies in both Congress and the Office of the President so that the pending autonomy bill will be advanced and enacted the soonest to achieve the goal of autonomy advocates for the realization of autonomy before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office by June 2022.
Dalog and Mangaoang believe that with Congressman Yap as one of the forerunners of autonomy in the House, much could be achieved in the coming months, especially when the proposed P4.5 trillion budget of the national government next year will be acted upon so that the different committees on the house will resume the conduct of hearings on the pending bills that need immediate action.
Earlier, the 7 provinces, 2 cities and 7 municipalities in the region passed their respective resolutions strongly supporting the passage of the pending autonomy bills in Congress for the region to be able to achieve autonomy after several decades of struggle by the indigenous peoples for self-governance to address the injustices that were committed by the national government on them in the past. By HENT