RDC-CAR urged to address issues on autonomy bills

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BONTOC, Mountain Province – Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. urged the Regional Development Council – Cordillera (RDC-CAR) to seek the respective positions of key government agencies on the issues that were raised by the members of the House Committee on local government to ensure smooth sailing once the pending autonomy bills will be calendared for plenary debates in the future.

Dalog, who was appointed as the vice chairman of the technical working group (TWG) assigned to work on the legalities of the autonomy bills, stated that the RDC-CAR must engage the justice department and the Solicitor-General for a favorable legal opinion that the previous Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC) ceased to exist after serving its purpose in the crafting of the first Organic Act of the Cordillera through Republic Act (RA) 6766 which was overwhelmingly rejected by the people, except those from Ifugao, after the contents of the law was watered down by Congress.

He added that the RDC-CAR must also work with the budget department to ensure the available funding support for the proposed autonomous region since it will be created and to guarantee the sustainable funding support for the duration of the 10-year subsidy period and beyond.

Further, Congressman Dalog claimed that long-term engagements must also be done with the finance department to make sure that the agency will grant the unconditional release of the share of the autonomous region from the taxes being collected by the revenue-generating agencies of the government.

According to him, time is of the essence that is why the RDC-CAR in coordination with the newly created TWG should start making the appropriate representations with the concerned government agencies to get their definite position on the issues raised on the pending autonomy bills so that the same will already be advanced in the House committee on local government to ensure its passage during the 18th Congress.

Last week, the House committee on local government chaired by Tarlac 3rd District Rep. Noel Villanueva conducted an initial hearing on House Bill (HB) 5687 authored by all Cordillera congressman and HB 7778 authored by Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap seeking the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) where issues on the need to create the CRCC were raised.

Dalog explained that there are two school of thoughts on the said issue where autonomy advocates believe that the CRCC already served its purpose in the crafting of RA 6766 and that the same ceased to exist while other personalities claim that the proposed autonomy bills have still to be crafted by the CRCC where members will have to be voted upon by the Cordilleras which will surely take much time and will derail the efforts to establish the ARC within the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

He remained optimistic that the proposed autonomy bills will be able to calendared fur future deliberations in the House the soonest so that the region’s renewed quest will not be derailed and for the region to realize the long struggle for self-governance.