Palace, Cordillera officials doubt legality of Cordillera special region

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BAGUIO CITY – Some Palace and Cordillera officials are now questioning the legality of the proposed creation of a special region in the Cordillera over and above the snowballing clamor for regional autonomy.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said there will be no compelling reason to create another Cordillera Special Region that will be in lieu of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), thus, the need for political leaders, civil society groups and the autonomy advocates to get their acts together and ascertain the proper direction of the region.

“Cordillerans must continue conducting more consultations in the grassroots level in order to ascertain what would be the appropriate direction of the region, whether to push through with the clamor for autonomy, to establish a special region or to maintain the CAR,” Secretary Abad stressed.

The DBM Secretary pointed out if the intention of the creation of the Cordillera Special Region is to be able to secure more funding support from the national government, rules and guidelines are already in place on how local governments will be able to access more funding support from the government, thus, there is no longer need for the establishment of an added layer of bureaucracy.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan branded the latest move of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera to establish a special region as illegal and unconstitutional considering that a mere executive order to be issued by the President for such purpose cannot amend Executive Order No. 220 which created the CAR during the revolutionary government.

Domogan explained orders and issuances of former President Cory Aquino when she was exercising both executive and legislative powers during the revolutionary government are considered part of the laws of the land but under the present set up where the law making powers of the government are lodged with the legislative branch, specifically the House of Representatives and the Senate, amendments of previously issued laws belong to both chambers of Congress.

“In the case of the proposal to create a special region in the Cordillera through the mere issuance of an executive order, we believe that such strategy is not in accordance with the present set up. Such proposal must still pass through deliberations of Congress,” Domogan said.

Domogan cited the only remedy for the region to be able to get more funding support from the national government is for the passage of House Bill (HB) 4649 which seeks to establish the autonomous region in the Cordillera that will put an end to the 27-year struggle of Cordilleras for self-governance.

Abra Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin, who is also the RDC-CAR chairman, claimed the clamor for a special region in the Cordillera is without prejudice to the passage of the desired autonomy law.

“We will still work out the passage of the autonomy law and the subsequent ratification of the law by our people to achieve the dream of those who fought for the establishment of our region.”Bersamin said.

Bersamin said the special region will serve as a transitional region in reparation for the quest for autonomy and will be abolished as soon as the six provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao and the cities of Baguio and Tabuk shall have ratified the autonomy bill to be passed by Congress in the future.

La Trinidad Mayor Edna C. Tabanda said she has been always open open for the establishment of an autonomous region but there is a need to sustain the aggressive information and education campaign for the people to understand the benefits of self-governance.

Tabanda claimed the proposed special region might complicate the region’s quest for regional autonomy and would result to further confusion among the people who are now being slowly updated and informed on the true essence of autonomy vis-à-vis development in the countryside.

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