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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The House committee on appropriations approved the consolidated bill seeking for the establishment of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) following the persistence of lawmakers from the different parts of the region in working for the advancement of the measure in Congress for the realization of the long overdue self-rule.
Benguet caretaker congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, disclosed that the members of the committee already endorsed the consolidated autonomy bill for plenary debates and for the period of amendments before it will be approved by the House on second and third readings in the remaining session days.
Earlier, the House committees on local government and ways and means passed upon the aforesaid measure as part of the prescribed process in the passage of the bill into law once signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Yap claimed that the House Committee on Appropriations already transmitted the approved consolidated autonomy bill to the House committee on rules with the similar approval from the two other committees for the same to be scheduled for plenary debates by the lawmakers who are interested to interpolate the proponents.
Cordillera congressmen filed House Bill (HB) 5687 that seeks to establish the CAR early in the 18th Congress while Congressman Yap filed House Bill 7778 last year with the purpose to fulfill the provisions of the 1987 Constitution mandating the establishment of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.
The lawmaker underscored the importance of the Cordillera achieving the long overdue status with the possible enactment of the autonomy law by the present Congress so that it will already be in a similar situation to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which was a product of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that amended the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where the same was enacted during the present administration.
Also pending before the Senate is Senate Bill (SB) 1232 authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri seeking the establishment of the CAR which is the counterpart bill of the consolidated autonomy bill that is pending deliberations in the House.
The House committee on local government created a technical working group composed of Cordillera lawmakers and members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera to consolidate the 2 autonomy bills to help in ironing out possible conflicting provisions that paved the way for the formulation of the consolidated measure which is now being deliberated by the House.
Autonomy advocates continue to remain hopeful that the consolidated autonomy bill will already be acted upon by Congress after the same had already been consolidated where among the salient provisions will be for the national government to grant the regional government a total of P75 billion block grant that will be equitable distributed for 10 years, P10 billion for the first 5 years and P5 billion each year for the succeeding 5 years, which will be used to bankroll high impact development and income-generating projects.