QUEZON CITY – The advocacy on the renewed quest for autonomy in the Cordillera shifted in the national scene to drum beat the support of national leaders in facilitating the passage of the proposed autonomy laws pending in both chambers of Congress the soonest so that the Cordillera will be able to achieve autonomy side by side with the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
Milagros Rimando, regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) and vice chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR), said that from January to July this year, the Cordillera was able to gain allies in the national government specifically Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri who is now the Senate Majority Floor Leader who filed the Senate Bill (SB) 1678 or the Senate version of the region’s autonomy bill early this year upon the intercession of Presidential Adviser on the Peace process Jesus G. Dureza.
Aside from Senator Zubiri who championed the Bangsamoro Organic Law in the Senate, The NEDA-CAR official claimed that autonomy advocates also engaged their counterparts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Cotabato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) to discuss strategies in advancing both the House and Senate versions of the proposed autonomy law.
“More partners were gained who committed to push for Cordillera autonomy towards federalism such as Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag, PUBLICOS Asia, Inc. and Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Undersecretary Ryan Esteves which resulted to the conduct of the Cordillera leaders forum with senators held recently,” Rimando stressed.
Previously, she claimed that Cordillera lawmakers initiated public consultations on the proposed Organic Act in Baguio-Benguet and Mountain Province sanctioned by the House committee on local government where statements of support and suggested minor amendments to the proposed autonomy bill for it to conform with the prevailing trend of the times were submitted.
Earlier, Baguio City Mayor and RDC-CAR chairman Mauricio G. Domogan underscored it is important for the region to secure autonomy before the planned shift to federalism because of the existing legal basis as enshrined in Section 15, Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution that mandates the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.
Domogan claimed that the draft federal charter submitted by the members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the amendments to the 1987 Constitution is merely recommendatory in nature and the Cordillerans must continue to campaign and advocate for autonomy towards federalism.
Rimando met with concerned youth leaders from the different parts of the region to discuss ways in engaging the youth sector in the autonomy advocacy in response to the points raised by autonomy advocates that emphasized getting the youth on board in the autonomy advocacy.
By Dexter A. See