BAGUIO CITY – The joint Regional Development and Peace and Order Councils (RDC-RPOC) endorsed the amendments crafted by the Organic Law Drafting Committee during the joint RDC-RPOC meeting on August 8, 2019. The proposed draft was presented by Committee Chair Philip Tingonong of Abra. The proposed draft will serve as suggestions to the bill expected to be filed by the Cordillera representatives in the 18th Congress.
The bill is largely based on the previous House Bill 5343 filed in the 17th Congress as it has undergone broad consultations in 2018. The drafting committee also used the extensive history of past autonomy laws and bills, the Local Government Code, and the inputs and recommendations of various stakeholders, such as the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly (CIPLA) on House Bill 5343. Emphasis was put on clarifying the rights of Cordillerans and differentiation between indigenous and non-indigenous Cordillerans.
There are some contentious amendments that were raised during the meeting. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong raised concern on the proposed review of local ordinances and policies by the Regional Assembly in the draft. Congressmen Mark Go of Baguio City and Joseph “JB” Bernos of Abra agreed to gather the Cordilleran legislators to discuss the RDC suggestions and come up with a bill that will address such concerns. “Let’s have a separate meeting to really discuss the bill and create a draft that is acceptable to the people,” Baguio Congressman Mark Go said. This meeting is expected to be held in September 2019.
Aside from Congressmen Go and Bernos, and Mayor Magalong, other regional officials present during the RDC-RPOC meeting were all the Cordillera governors, Congressman Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao, and the heads of the region’s line agencies.
The RDC roadmap for achieving Cordillera autonomy aims to have the Cordillera Organic Law passed by 2020.
By Marlo T. Lubguban