BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) cited the initial gains and advances that were achieved over the past several years in relation to the region’s renewed quest for autonomy.
RDC-CAR Secretary and Assistant Regional Director of the Cordillera office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) Jedidia Aquino underscored that aside from being able to bring to the attention of President Rodrigo R. Duterte the snowballing clamor for regional autonomy by concerned stakeholders, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza has vowed to champion House Bill (HB) 5343, or the bill that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera by simultaneously working it out with the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Further, Aquino said the RDC-CAR was able to bring to the attention of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III his commitment during the celebration of the 28th founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in Luna, Apayao last July 15, 2015 that he will champion the bill creating the autonomous region.
“We are slowly gaining headway in our renewed quest for regional autonomy by bringing to the attention of our national officials the dire need of the Cordillera to become an autonomous region to guarantee a better pace of development and allow the crafting of responsive policies for the region aside from strengthening the region’s permanent identity and ensuring progress for all,”Aquino stressed.
The NEDA-CAR official added Cordillera lawmakers are also following up the inclusion of the proposed autonomy bill in the deliberations of the House Committee on Local Government and Committee on Appropriations, while the certification from the Office of the President that the bill is an urgent administration measure is being awaited.
According to her, the RDC-CAR in partnership with the different private and government organizations are continuously conducting the required information and education campaign on the importance of converting the region into an autonomous region in the future to help speed up the development of remote villages around the region, and for the government to have the justification in providing the autonomous government the needed subsidy to help in the implementation of high impact development projects to ensure progress in the countryside.
Aquino emphasized it has been time and again assured by Palace officials that the Cordillera autonomy bill will be included as a priority administration measure and will be issued the necessary certification when President Duterte will certify the unified BBL as urgent and subsequently submitted to Congress in the coming months.
HB 5343 was authored by Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. Jesse Mangaoang and the late Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog.
By Dexter A. See