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Baguio City – The 34th Sipat Anniversary celebration organized by the Regional Development Council of the Cordillera Administrative Region (RDC-CAR) through Cordillera office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) last September 13, 2020, was once again a venue for legislators to express their support for the passing of House Bill 5687: An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. This year’s celebration included the participation of Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go as the guest of honor.
In his message, Juan Miguel F. Zubiri assured his alliance with Cordillera towards its desire to attain regional autonomy. “It inspires hope, to see how CAR has blossomed from the seeds sown by the 1986 Sipat, and how it has developed into a great and capable region today, demonstrating an unquestionable capacity for autonomy and self-determination. In this, I am your ally,” he said. Zubiri earlier filed the senate bill counterpart of the House Bill 5687 last December 11, 2019.
House Committee chairman on local government and Tarlac 3rd District Representative Noel L. Villanueva also mentioned the commitment of 10 legislators from the 18th Congress to the passing of House Bill 5687 to implement Cordillera autonomy, referring to it as a mandate promised by the 1987 Philippine Constitution. During the 2020 Cordillera month celebration, Villanueva called for unified action among its people and its local government towards the passing of the mentioned bill. The bill was filed by the seven representatives of the Cordillera Administrative Region last December 2, 2019.
Baguio City Representative Congressman Mark Go called for the battle cry, “We heal as One Cordillera” adapting the region’s united aspirations for autonomy and the administration’s battle cry against COVID-19 as a symbolism of easing up tensions between Cordillera and the national government, the essence of the Sipat. Go also mentioned that neglect and oppression united the region but today, autonomy is still not achieved.
He called on the people to continue the fight initiated by the pioneers. “Two organic acts (have passed and) we are not yet an autonomous region. We saw how this polarized even the groups that were once united in the Chico River and Cellophil Struggles. We ask “where are our champions?”, “Where are we?” Today, it’s up to us now. True leadership inspires and creates results,” he said.
Congressman of the Lone District of Ifugao Solomon Chungalao emphasized the certification of the bill as a priority legislative agenda by the President, otherwise, the advocacy may be forgotten like a candle which will slowly burn out.
Representative Maximo Dalog Jr. of the Lone District of Mountain Province appeals to Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go and other national officials to assist them in the certification of House Bill 5687 as an urgent or priority bill by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Cordillera leaders hope to meet with Malacañang to discuss the Presidential support to the bill. To this day, the recently filed House Bill remains a glimmer of hope for Cordillera in its goal to achieve regional autonomy. By Alvin Fernandez