BAGUIO CITY – While autonomy in the Cordillera region is still pending, another executive order is being proposed to accelerate socio-economic development in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
The National Economic Development Authority-CAR (NEDA-CAR) and the Regional Development Council-CAR (RDC-CAR) drafted the EO entitled, “Accelerating the Socio-Economic Development in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Appropriating Funds Thereof.”
The draft EO specifically requests appropriation of additional funds to accelerate the social growth and development of the region, over and above the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) provided to local government units (LGU) as well as allocations already being provided through the regional line agencies and other appropriations provided to the region. It also seeks augmentation of the annual allocation for the Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) to cover Capital Outlay, Personnel Services and Maintenance and Other Operating Services.
The draft EO also stated that it was “prepared in cognizance of the President’s empathy over the plight of the IPs in the Cordilleras.” It also mentioned “an urgent need to immediately address legitimate concerns affecting the administrative region” such as the exercise of powers and functions.
Another reason for pursuing the EO is the national government’s appropriation of the least IRA allotment to CAR and annual agency budgets.
Under the draft EO, RDC-CAR will be reconstituted and shall have additional functions such as accelerating the socio-economic growth and development of the region by providing the overall direction for the utilization of development funds that shall be generated through the proposed EO considering National, Regional and Local Development Plans and Investment Programs as priorities. RDC-CAR shall also prepare for the establishment of an autonomous region and administer the funds annually appropriated for SPCAR.
The EO also stated that CAR and its LGUs shall have at least 50% share of the taxes and other government revenues generated in the region. Ten percent of that share will be distributed to barangays, 10% to municipalities, 15% to provinces or cities, and 15% to CAR through the RDC.
CAR shall also have a share in the national internal revenue taxes equivalent to 1% based on the collection of the third fiscal year preceding the current. Eighty percent of such share shall be appropriated in the annual regional budget for development projects. The IRA share of CAR will be released directly to RDC-CAR.
CAR shall have a separate 40% share of the national wealth tax under the proposed EO. LGUs shall have a 1.5% share of the gross sales or receipts or 50% of the gross collections, whichever is higher, derived from renewable energy taxes, mining taxes, royalties, forestry and fishery charges, including related surcharges, interests or fines, and from its share in any co-production, joint ventures or production sharing agreement in the utilization and development of the national wealth within their territorial jurisdiction.
Under the draft EO, the President has the power of general supervision over CAR and its LGUs. RDC is also tasked to submit an annual report to the President on the status of socio-economic development in CAR as well as on the social preparation of CAR into an autonomous region.
When signed, the EO shall remain in force until the region attains autonomy.
Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he is in favor of its intention, but expressed apprehension for its legality. He said additional share from national funds can only be granted not by an EO but by law, which is what House Bill 4649 or the autonomy bill is for. The proposed EO is in the Cordillerans’ favor, but it could muddle the issue on the pursuit of autonomy by giving people the impression that self-rule can be attained through an EO.
In November, NEDA-CAR said it was pushing for the drafting of an EO that will make CAR a special region pending its autonomy. However, the legality of the proposal was put into question by some national and regional officials, including Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who expressed his view during his visit in the city last month.