BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera region must first embrace autonomy before the national government pursues the desired shift from presidential to federal form of government to enable it to be in a better position to have its permanent regional identity, craft policies that will be applicable to the region to achieve progress for all, lawyer Benedicto Bacani, Executive Director of the Cotabato-based Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG), said here recently.
Bacani underscored the major reason why the Cordillera should already embrace autonomy before federalism is that the establishment of an autonomous region in Mindanao and the Cordillera is provided in the 1987 Constitution and it needs to become a strong autonomous region before moving to federalism.
The IAG official underscored the Cordillera also needs to ride on the quest for the put up of the Bangsamoro autonomous region because the bid for autonomy is parallel with the quest for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law which has been prioritized by the present administration.
He pointed out it is with more reason that the Cordillera will strive for autonomy because there are already autonomy advocates both in the national and local levels who are willing to push for the enactment of the autonomy laws of the Cordillera and Mindanao, especially when the two bills will be certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as priority administration measures.
More importantly, he cited there is already an increasing level of awareness and understanding as well as support for autonomy based on the results of the three pulse surveys conducted to ascertain the level of awareness of the people in relation to the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy.
Earlier, all Cordillera congressmen filed House Bill (HB) 5343, the bill seeking the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera, while the draft Bangsamoro Basic law that was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission was submitted to President Duterte for review and possible submission to the House of Representatives for filing in the next regular session.
He explained that once the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao will be achieve autonomous status before the shift to federal form of government will be achieved, the established autonomous regions will co-exist with the federal states where they belong and the Constitution of the federal states will recognize the existence of the autonomous regions within the said states.
Autonomy advocates reiterated that the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao will propel rural development because the regional government will have greater control of the region’s resources with lesser restraint from the national government and it will help in moving out the people from poverty.
Bacani has been tapped by the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera as its partner in strengthening the advocacy and lobby for the passage of the bill that will provide the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera to gain more national support.