BAGUIO CITY September 21 – Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Nabel Tan reiterated President Rodrigo R. Duterte remains committed in fulfilling his earlier promise to Cordillera leaders that House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that establishes the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera will be certified urgent side by side with the unified version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) now undergoing scrutiny by legal experts of the Palace.
Contrary to reports that the autonomy is not part of the priority agenda of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDC) this year, Undersecretary Tan revealed that the proposed autonomy bill is included in the LEDAC calendar but the LEDAC is awaiting the final version of the BBL so that it will officially endorse the approval of the two bills once certified urgent by the President.
He pointed out the President is committed to fulfilling the obligation of the government under the previously signed peace agreements that includes the historic Mount Data peace agreement signed between former rebel priest Conrado Balweg and former President Corazon C. Aquino wherein one of the major conditions of the agreement as contained in the 26-point demand of the Cordillera Bodong Administration–Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) is the grant of autonomous status to the Cordillera.
However, the Palace aide claimed part of the government’s obligation under the signed peace agreements include the enactment of the appropriate enabling law that is why there is HB 5343 for the Cordillera and BBL for Muslim Mindanao wherein things are still being ironed out to address whatever legal infirmities raised in the past, especially concerning the BBL.
“We will just have to wait for the LEDAC to discuss the Cordillera autonomy bill and the BBL. It just so happened that the two priority bills were overtaken by some special concerns that need immediate action to address the various problems confronting the administration,” Undersecretary Tan stressed.
The deputy peace adviser asserted that the Office of the Presidential Advisers on the Peace Process (OPAP) is guided by the President’s commitment that no one will be left out during the term of the President, thus, Cordillera will not be left out in the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy, provided that, concerned stakeholders will have to work double time for the realization of the Cordillerans of lasting peace.
He appealed to Cordillerans for more patience and understanding in awaiting the certification of the President that HB 5343 is one of the priority administration measures.
Undersecretary Tan emphasized the President will not waste his time meeting with Cordillera leaders if in the end, he will not certify the proposed autonomy bill as urgent and in fact, the President made history because for the first time in over three decades, almost all leaders in the Cordillera met with the President in Malacanang and primarily discussed autonomy and federalism, two related issues.