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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The House of Representatives recently approved on third and final reading a bill declaring every July 15 a special non-working holiday in the whole Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in commemoration of the region’s founding anniversary.
House Bill (HB) 8839 authored by Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap and Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting was immediately transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.
Subsequently, the Senate approved the proposed concurrence of the said bill on first reading and referred the matter to the Senate committee on local government for study and recommendation.
Congressman Yap pointed out that the declaration of every July 15 as a special non-working holiday in the Cordillera is not just a celebration of the region’s founding anniversary but also a renewal for the renewed quest for autonomy which shall enable the preservation and strengthening of the region’s distinct culture, tradition, heritage and rich history as a people.
On July 15, 1987, former President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order (EO) No. 220 which eventually established the CAR that brought together the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province and Baguio City from the Ilocos Region and the provinces of Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao from the Cagayan Valley.
Under this EO, the CAR is mandated to administer the affairs of government in the region, to accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units of the region and prepare for the establishment of the autonomous region pursuant to the pertinent provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
The issuance of EO 220 was an offshoot of the signing of the historic Mount Data peace agreement between the Philippine government represented by former President Aquino and the Cordillera Bodong Administration–Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) led by former rebel priest Conrado Balweg which was executed at the Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province on September 13, 1986.
Aquino then was exercising both executive and legislative powers under the previous revolutionary government when she issued this order that established the CAR.
Yap assured the Cordillerans he will do his best to work with the Senate committee on local government chaired by Senator Francis Tolentino to ensure the bill will be passed during the 18th Congress as part of the efforts to have the pending autonomy bills in both chambers acted upon and passed to fulfill the administration’s desire to achieve peace in the northern and southern part of the country.
Yap authored HB 7778 that seeks to establish the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC) which compliments HB 5687 authored by all Cordillera congressmen with a similar purpose. A similar counterpart bill, Senate Bill (SB) 1232 authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri is also pending with the Senate committee on local government. By HENT