BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan underscored the present administration’s plan to change the current unitary form of government to federal form will not hinder the region’s renewed quest for autonomy but instead compliment the move for self-governance considering that both aspects of government have almost the same principles.
The local chief executive said federalism and autonomy are both anchored on the devolution of powers from the central to the regional and local governments, increased responsibility of the regional and local governments in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities, the chance for the local governments to identify priority development projects, the increased share of resources among others, thus, there is no actual conflict between the two options available for the Cordillera to embrace.
However, he explained the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao are in a special situation at the moment because of the constitutional provision that mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the two areas which is the only legal justification of the national government to address the historical injustices committed against the two which led to their neglected development, thus, the national government will have the basis to treat the two areas in a special manner for the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao to catch up with the rapid pace of development in larger regions like the National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon.
Domogan explained the road map embraced by the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera, which is autonomy towards federalism, is the right approach for the region to survive problems that will arise in the future once the government will shift to federal form plus the numerous issues that continue to confront the shift to federal form of government.
“Let us take advantage of the present administration’s support to the Cordillera’s quest for autonomy while supporting the shift to federal form because it will be the only means by which the local governments comprising the region will be intact and will be recognized as an autonomous region within a federal state,” Domogan stressed.
He claimed federalism advocates are currently hounded on how to actually divide the country into feasible federal states aside from the issues on the distribution of the country’s national wealth, the retirement packages of government officials and employees, the distribution of the government agencies to the federal states among others, thus, small local governments like those in the Cordillera will continue to get the least share compared to the big provinces that will be included as members of the federal state where the region will belong.
Once the Cordillera will achieve autonomy prior to the shift to federal form, Domogan said the region will be secured because what the federal state will have to do is to place a provision in its Constitution that it recognizes the existence of the autonomous region, including the powers that it currently enjoys and the resources that it currently gets from the government.
He urged Cordillerans not to be carried away by the sugar-coated words of autonomy critics because they are not actually supporting the overall development of the region but they are only after their personal and political interests.
By Dexter A. See