House Bill 5687 (Continuation)

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Any bill or proposal for the autonomy of the Cordilleras must be scrutinised by all individuals and institutions who will be affected by its enactment. If a more improved version of the autonomy bill is to be desired, placing the present version under the microscope must not be perceived outright as opposition but rather an effort to arrive at the best possible bill for the good of the Cordilleras. At the end of the day, an autonomy bill that has been thoroughly examined and refined will present a better chance for success on our quest for true autonomy. House Bill 5687 must have been researched and thoroughly read by legal experts but there might have been some few things that escaped the drafters. Might…

Section 45 of HB 5687 provides for the manner of electing the governor and the vice-governor who must belong to the same political party because a vote for the governor is to be counted as a vote to the vice-governor much like the U.S. presidential elections. It is therefore impossible for an independent candidate to run for the said positions but then the issue on succession becomes a little strange for me. If the position of vice-governor becomes permanently vacant, “the member of the assembly belonging to the same political party, garnering the highest percentage of votes in the district represented shall become the vice-governor or in case of permanent disability, the second highest shall assume said position.” (Sec. 49 b) Yet the there is a speaker of the regional assembly elected by the members. Should it not be the speaker who should succeed the vice-governor in case of permanent vacancy? The requirement that the successor shall belong to the same political party as the former vice-governor might be understandable since it is apparent the autonomous bill aims to establish a strong party system but the additional qualification of “garnering the highest percentage of votes in the district represented” to me might be prohibitive. Cities and those provinces with high population will have more chances of succeeding and lesser chance for those coming from less populated districts. It might be more sensible to have the speaker of the assembly as the successor because his election as speaker means that he is the most trusted among his peers.

The vice-governor is in essence only a “spare tire” whose main function is, according to my former political science professor- “to pray hard every night that the governor dies so he may succeed”. The vice-governor is not the presiding officer of the assembly and will only perform essential governmental function if he is “appointed to the position of head of regional offices as may be created by the Regional Assembly”. One friend commented that the position is useless and it will just be a waste of money to pay the salary of an official who has no essential function.

We must continue to examine the provisions of the proposed autonomy bill no matter how insignificant they might seem to be. We are now being given the role to decide the fate of our beloved Cordillera and we have to take this role seriously.

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