BAGUIO CITY – Cordillera lawmakers expressed satisfaction on the contents of the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte during the joint session of Congress at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City last Monday.
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang said that the President was able to send a clear message to the lawmakers on his priorities for the remaining three years of his administration that will serve as the basis for the priority legislations that have to be passed to achieve the programs that were put in place.
While it is true that the President did not again mention in his SONA matters in relation to the region’s quest for autonomy, Mangaoang pointed out that it should not disappoint the autonomy advocates because the clamor for autonomy is a still continuing for the possible filing of the proposed autonomy law in the 18th Congress.
He stated that lawmakers are just awaiting the draft coming from the Regional Development Council (RDC) that will serve as the basis for the autonomy bill that will be filed the soonest after the inclusion in the provisions of important matters that might have been overlooked so that the same will not be overtaken by events in the present Congress.
The 2-term Kalinga lawmaker urged all sectors in the region to actively participate in the ongoing finalization of the draft of the proposed autonomy so that their sentiments and concerns will be included in the provisions that will be crafted so that when it will be submitted to them, there will be minimal adjustments that will be done before the formal filing of the bill in the House probably within the next two months.
For his part, Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. disclosed that President Duterte was just being honest about his frustrations on the rampant corruption in the bureaucracy which he is trying to minimize or eventually eradicate before he steps down from the presidency by June 30, 2022.
The neophyte lawmaker stated that people should understand that he had to deviate from his prepared speech from time to time to expound on certain issues which he knows to be important to the Filipinos to avoid misinterpretations of what he had pronounced.
Dalog disclosed that despite the failure of the Chief Executive to discuss the region’s quest for autonomy, the struggle for self-governance should not wane but instead sustain the vibrance that it was able to achieve to show to other lawmakers that the region is already prepared for self-rule.
He said that he will be one of the signatories to the proposed autonomy bill of the Cordillera once it will be ready for filing in the House so that the committee where it will be referred will start working on its passage with the support of other Cordillera congressmen who also committed to be authors of the measure.
In the 17th Congress, all Cordillera congressmen authored House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that sought to establish the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera but the same was overtaken by events despite the solid commitment of lawmakers from Mindanao to support the passage of the proposed law to reciprocate the support shown by Cordillerans in the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law which is now being implemented in Muslim Mindanao.