Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong rallied local officials in the Cordillera to sustain the practice of good governance as part of the efforts to achieve the long overdue establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC).
The city chief executive made the call during the main program for the celebration of the 33rd founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) held at the University of the Philippines College Baguio (UPCB) gymnasium last July 15, 2020.
He said the people and officialdom of Baguio City join their counterparts in the different local governments comprising the CAR in renewing their support to the region’s quest for autonomy as an engine of growth and development.
The mayor pointed out one of the ways to convince people to support the shift from the present special temporary administrative status of the Cordillera to an autonomous region is for local officials to practice good governance, transparency, and accountability in the management of public funds.
According to him, local officials should show to the people they can take on a greater responsibility once the region achieves autonomy so that the funds that will be provided to the autonomous region and the local governments can be maximized for the implementation of the region’s priority development projects.
He expressed optimism that Congress will act on House Bill (HB) 5687 and Senate Bill (SB) 1232, the bills that seek to establish the ARC, so that the region can achieve the constitutional mandate on autonomy.
Last year, all the Cordillera congressmen filed HB 5687 or the House version of the ARC to jumpstart the process of having the bill be approved in both chambers for the appropriate action of the President.
Autonomy advocates reiterated that self-governance is the engine of growth and development because of the infusion of more government resources to the regional government for high impact development projects in the countryside and move people out from the shackles of poverty.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera is leading the ongoing information and education campaign on autonomy in the region that saw a significant improvement in the awareness level of Cordillerans on the quest for autonomy rising to 60 percent compared to the 35 percent awareness level of the people when the conduct of the pulse survey started in 2008.
The 1987 Constitution mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao where the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao was recently established through the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Previously, the Cordillera attempted to achieve autonomy twice but the enacted autonomy laws were overwhelmingly rejected by the people during the plebiscites on January 30, 1990 and March 7, 1998 primarily due to inadequate information by the people.
By Dexter A. See
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