BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan appealed to the Cordillerans not to be confused on the region’s renewed quest for autonomy vis-à-vis the thrust of the present administration to shift to federal form of government because the two concepts of governance are not in conflict with each other.
Domogan, who chairs the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR), said that the thrust of the region is to pursue the establishment of an autonomous region ahead of the shift to federal form of government so that the Cordillera will have a greater chance to negotiate with developed regions for its inclusion as an independent autonomous region within a federal state which is allowed.
“We do not want to be left out and be treated as second-class citizens in a bigger federal state. We should therefor strive for what is contained in the Constitution before it will be too late for us to struggle for self-governance,” Domogan stressed.
He pointed out that including the Cordillera as a sub-state of the proposed Northern Luzon Federal State will not do good for the Cordillerans because it will result to the eventual abolition of the existing line agencies in the region and Cordillerans will have to transact business with the government offices that will be put up in the identified capital of the state.
According to him, the situation of Cordillerans in a federal state could probably be worst than when the provinces and cities comprising the region were in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions that is why under the proposed autonomy bill, the relationship between the national government and the autonomous regional government was clearly defined.
Further, the bill also outlined the support that the national government will extend to the autonomous regional government even if there will be a change in leadership because the sharing of resources and the subsidy from the national government had been specified and what the budget department will simply do is to release the funds directly to the beneficiary local governments.
He said that there is nothing wrong on the President’s advocacy on de-centralization of powers and resources because it is the essence of both autonomy and federalism but in the case of the region, the best option available is for the Cordillera to stay intact as a region considering its unique culture and traditions that is the basis for the inclusion of the provision on autonomous regions in the country under the 1987 Constitution.
Domogan claimed that once the Cordillera is included as part of a bigger state in a federal set-up, it will be unlikely for bigger regions or states to be continuously subsidizing the existence of non-viable regions like the Cordillera which would surely result to discrimination among other abuses.
He asserted that the Cordillera cannot actually exist as an independent federal state because of insufficient resources to sustain its operation.
Based on studies, the National Capital Region and its surrounding regions account for 63 percent of the country’s gross domestic product which shows that the rest of the regions in the country cannot actually survive as an independent federal state because of lack of available resources.
By Dexter A. See