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BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera continues to gain more allies in the Senate on its bid for the establishment of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) following the recent pronouncement of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that he fully supports the quest for self-governance.
Gatchalian stated he believes in the principle of autonomy and its projected benefits to the Cordillera that is why he is supportive of the region’s renewed quest for self-rule.
However, he points out the need for the people of the Cordillera to be more aggressive in lobbying for the immediate passage of the pending bills in both chambers of Congress that seek to establish the autonomous region to achieve the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.
The senator stated that Cordillerans are fully aware of what happened in the two previous Organic Acts that were rejected by the people during separate plebiscites to ratify these laws on January 30, 1990 and March 7, 1998, thus, Cordillerans would have learned the shortcomings in the past to ensure the ratification of the autonomy law being proposed in Congress.
Pending before the upper chamber of Congress is Senate Bill (SB)1232 authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri seeking for the establishment of the CAR which is currently referred to the Senate committee on local government awaiting the conduct of consultations, while in the House of Representatives, House Bill (HB) Nos. 5687 authored by all Cordillera congressmen and 7778 authored by Benguet caretaker congressman and Anticrime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap is being scheduled for plenary debates after being passed upon by the House committees on appropriations, ways and means and local government.
Senator Gatchalian recognized the need for the Cordillera to achieve the long overdue aspiration for the establishment of the autonomous region responsive to its peculiar situation.
Autonomy advocates remain hopeful that the 18th Congress will legislative an autonomy law that will be presented to the Cordillera people in a plebiscite for ratification to ensure the establishment of the desired autonomous region.
While the autonomy billed are pending deliberations in Congress, concerned stakeholders are conducting aggressive information education campaigns through various forms to convince the people the importance of the establishment of the autonomous region to ensure that the Cordillera will be self-governing.
In 2007, the Regional development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera embraced autonomy as its overarching agenda towards development. By HENT