Mayor waves ‘white flag’ on autonomy in Aquino administration

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BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan has waved the ‘white flag’ on the renewed pursuit for Cordillera autonomy during the present term of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III because of Malacañang’s jukewarm attitude on a supposed legacy that was started by her mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino, and to be completed by her son, the incumbent Chief Executive of the country.

Domogan said the refusal of President Aquino to certify House Bill (HB) 4649 or the bill that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera authored by the seven Cordillera congressmen while giving importance to the passage of the Bangsa Moro Basic Law only leaves the renewed pursuit for regional autonomy the least priority of the administration.

However, the local chief executive pointed out President’s failure to prioritize the Cordillera autonomy bid will dampen on-going efforts on information education campaign in the grassroots level, saying that it should serve as an inspiration for Cordillerans to bond together and really pressure the government to give to the people of the region what has been enshrined in the 1987 Constitution for the establishment an autonomous region in the Cordillera.

“We understand the priority being given by the administration to the issues and concerns of the Bangsa Moro because of the prevailing issues and concerns but Cordillerans also deserve equal treatment in order for the region to achieve autonomous status, a supposed legacy for the Aquino family,” Domogan stressed.

He encouraged autonomy advocates not to buckle down in their aggressive information and education campaign so that Cordillerans, especially those in the countryside, will be able to fully understand the real essence of self-governance so that it would be easier to convince the President to give priority to the approval of the pending autonomy bill so that it will be passed by the present Congress.

According to him, the best thing that the Aquino administration to the Cordillera is to implement unimplemented provisions of Executive Order 220, especially identified provisions on increased funds for local governments comprising the region.

He cited one of the unimplemented provisions of EO 220 that created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR is Section 22 that provides “the CAR shall receive an equitable share of the taxes and other government revenues generated in the CAR territorial coverage. For this purpose, as part of the BIR allotment in the region, the CAR and the local government units within the Cordillera Administrative Region’s territorial coverage shall have at least fifty percent (50%) share of such taxes and other government revenues to be distributed as follows: ten percent (10%) to barangays, ten percent (107.) to municipalities, fifteen percent (15%) to provinces or cities, fifteen percent (15%) to the CAR.”

Further, the said Section added “To ensure proper implementation of the principle of equitable sharing, the President shall direct the Department of Finance and appropriate national departments and agencies to coordinate with the CAR.”

Domogan suggested that instead of asking the President to sign an executive order accelerating the socio-economic development of the Cordillera and appropriating funds therefore, the executive order must direct concerned government agencies to implemented unimplemented provisions of EO 220 like Section 22 among others in order to contribute in increasing the funds to be downloaded to the local governments comprising the CAR which will be subsequently used to bankroll the implementation of development projects and enhance the delivery of basic services to the people.

“We will have to settle for what would be possible at this point but our efforts towards achieving autonomous status for the Cordillera should not be derailed by the failure of the President to prioritize our clamor for self-governance,” Domogan stated.

The city mayor underscored autonomy will be for the present and future generations to enjoy the benefit of self-governance while those who are in their twighlight years will be unable to reap the fruits of self-rule.

He cited since the filing of the autonomy bill in Congress on June 11, 2014, the House committee has never conducted the appropriate hearings that would pave the way for the passage of the measure in the lower House and in preparation for the filing of its version in the Senate.

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