Young leaders back Cordillera autonomy bid

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MANKAYAN, Benguet  – Mayor Frenzel Ayong underscored that young leaders in the Cordillera are supportive of the renewed quest for regional autonomy because it will be the region’s vehicle to trigger the desired growth and development in the countryside.

Ayong led Mankayan municipal officials in receiving the Unity Gong from the delegation of Abra led by Vice Gov. Ronald Balao-as Thursday.

“We should give autonomy a try instead of casting doubts on its effect to the overall state of the region. What is important is the autonomy law will have the safety features for provinces and cities that continue to embrace the wait and see situation for them to have a chance to join the autonomous region in the future,” Mayor Ayong stressed.

The local chief executive explained that one of the problems that autonomy advocates are encountering is the culture of some tribes in the Cordillera who are of the wait and see attitude that is why their support to autonomy is lukewarm but what is important is that there will be some provinces and cities that are able to start the operation of the autonomous region for them to see its benefits in terms of growth and development as well as good, transparent and accountable governance.

According to him, there is a need for the framers of the third Organic Act to ensure the presence of provisions that will ensure the entry and exit of provinces and cities to the autonomous region to ensure their support to the quest for self-governance.

He agreed to the contention of autonomy advocates that self-rule will greatly help in enhancing the overall development of remote communities around the Cordillera and move people out from the shackles of poverty because the autonomous region will have a greater control of the available resources with lesser restraint from outside forces.

He added that the concerned agencies and local governments must sustain the on-going information and education campaign on autonomy being done in the grassroots level to ensure that Cordillerans are able to understand the true essence of autonomy to the region for them to vote for the establishment of the autonomous region once the approved autonomy law will be submitted to them for ratification during a plebiscite.

Ayong stipulated that Cordillerans should not wait for the region to be threatened and for its quest for autonomy to be overtaken by events before waking up to reality because the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera is worthy trying and whatever loopholes of the autonomy law that will be put in place could be corrected by introducing the appropriate amendments to the said law.

Ayong supported the pro-postal of various sectors to review the provisions of House Bill (HB) 5343 that was filed in the 17th Congress so that whatever added inputs to strengthen its existing provisions will be incorporated prior to the filing another version of the autonomy law in the 18th Congress.

In 2006, the Regional Development Council (RDC) embraced autonomy as its over-arching agenda to ensure the speedy development of the remote communities which had been deprived of resources in the past to achieve real growth and development.

By HENT

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