Autonomy awareness thrusts forward in 1st Quarter

BAGUIO CITY – The Information, Education and Communication (IEC) thrust of the Social Preparation Program for a Cordillera Autonomous Region (SPCAR) reached over 3,500 Cordillerans in the first quarter of the year. These IEC activities were conducted in partnership with the provincial LGUs of Mountain Province and Abra, Sadanga Environmental and Cultural Care Association, Inc. (SECCAI), Cordillera Network of Development NGOs and POs (CORDNET), Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army (CPLA), Cordillera Forum on Peace and Development, CHED, OPAPP, and The Cordillera Connection Band. Fifty percent more stakeholders were reached as compared to last year’s first quarter. This does not include other stakeholders who were informed from the initiatives of partner agencies and organizations.

The info drives kicked off in Sagada, Mountain Province with the autonomy concert-forum during the week-long celebration of the Etag Festival in February. This was initiated by the municipal local government wherein around 500 i-Sagadans were informed on Cordillera autonomy and entertained through songs with messages of cultural rights and self-determination.

Drumming up our grassroots IEC, Sadanga one of the Cordillera municipalities affected by both the Chico Dam project and the Cellophil logging in the 70s, hosted four separate info drives in the Barangays of Bekigan, Belwang and Sacasacan from February 25 to 28 reaching over 300 residents. The residents signed a statement of support urging President Rodrigo Duterte to certify the proposed Cordillera organic as an urgent bill.

Close to a thousand more were reached during the Sports for Autonomy marathon relay where 45 runners crossed Mountain Province in 6 days. During the relay, each municipality had IECs on autonomy and a mock plebiscite simulating the province’s vote for autonomy. Seventy-three (73%) of the participants voted ‘yes’ to autonomy while 4% voted ‘no’. The remaining twenty-three (23%) are still undecided.

Meanwhile, over 1800 stakeholders comprised of clergymen, senior high school and college students, municipal officials, and members of the CPLA were informed on the salient features of the Cordillera Organic Act in four separate events in the Province of Abra.

Specifically, the unified CPLA staged the Tingguian Galigad as a ritual intended to transfer the Bodong peace pact holders between the CPLA and the Philippine Government represented by Peace Secreatary Jesus Dureza. The event reaffirmed the 1986 Sipat with the Philippine government which led to the creation of CAR. An IEC was conducted by NEDA-CAR after.

The concert-forum in Bangued gathered 1200 students to an afternoon of music and learning through the Abra leg of the autonomy concert-forum. Two local artists, John Paul Ganti and Elmer Tadeo performed their original compositions, “Ipatakder ti Autonomiya (Establishing Autonomy)” and “Aweng ti Autonomiya, Pagilian a Cordillera (The Sound of Autonomy in the Cordillera)”, respectively, during the autonomy concert-forum. A similar concert-forum was held in Luna, Apayao in April.

In Baguio, the CORDNET led a seminar-workshop to craft Autonomy IEC messages for various sectors attended by 75 leaders. A representative of the farmers’ sector said “…no ag-autonomy, mas matulungan ti gobyerno ti farmers…tapno jay dakkel nga ganansya nga al-alaen ti middlemen ket apan kadatayo. (With autonomy, the government will better help us – so we can benefit more than the middleman”.)

While more stakeholders were reached, many more are yet to be informed hence, several projects and activities are lined up for the rest of the year, both at the national and regional levels based on SPCAR’s strategic Communication Plan to further drum up the advocacy.

Photo: Full force – (Top left) Students of Balweg National High School learn the history of the Cordillera’s moment for self-determination. (Top Right) A community leader commends the Cordillera organic act for including a provision on the rights of vulnerable sectors. (Bottom Right) A senior high school student expresses his views on the pursuit for Cordillera autonomy during the concert-forum in Abra. (Bottom Left) Runners of Mountain Province finish their 6-day marathon relay in Bontoc while spreading awareness for the advocacy.

By: Marlo T. Lubguban – NEDA-SPCAR

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