Drafting committee for autonomy bill to convene

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BAGUIO CITY – The RDC has issued a regional memorandum expanding the Organic Law Drafting Committee (OLDC).  The drafting committee, composed of experts on law, economics, the environment, Cordillera culture, the history of the autonomy pursuit and Indigenous Peoples’ rights from both the public and private sector, will be responsible for the drafting of a new proposed Organic Act establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC) for the 18th Congress. A meeting to brief the members of the drafting committee is set on April 26 in Baguio City. The drafting committee will review existing documents on Cordillera autonomy and address the concerns of various sectors and improve on House Bill 5343 filed in 2017 in the 17th Congress.

The Organic Law Drafting Committee (OLDC), chaired by long-time autonomy advocate Philip Tinggonong, is composed of diverse experts who have rich experience in areas of information dissemination for autonomy, in the drafting of the previous proposed organic acts, and participation in various national and local alliance building events, among many others.

Depending on their expertise, the committee members will be assigned to focus on one of seven categories: (1) Relationship Between National Government and Regional Government, (2) Political Structure of Regional Government, (3) Justice Systems, Customary Law, and Peace & Order, (4) Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, (5) Finance, Business and Economy, (6) Culture, Education, Social Services, Science & Technology and Religion, and (7) Environment & Natural Resources.

The Committee through the RDC aims to submit the draft Cordillera Organic Act on July in time for the opening of the 18th Congress. Through the efforts of the RDC and NEDA House Bill 5343 advanced in the 17 Congress with three supporting Senate bills were even drafted by Senators Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito, and Migs Zubiri.

The Regional Development Council continues to pursue Cordillera autonomy along with the national administration’s push for a Federal form of government. Advocates emphasize the need to secure Cordillera autonomy first to ensure the representation of the region in a federal system. This, along with the three core messages of Cordillera autonomy: enhanced cultural identity, responsive policies for the region, and progress for all, are the principles that shall guide the drafting of the new Cordillera Organic Act.

By Marlo T. Lubguban

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