Autonomy bid gets a new Senate ally

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet  – The region’s renewed quest for the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) continues to get a big boost from members of the Senate as re-electionist Senator Cynthia Villar was the latest addition to those senators who pledged their support for the passage of the pending bills on cordillera autonomy once brought to the plenary.

Villar, was in this province Friday s guest of honor and speaker during the 118th Benguet founding anniversary and 2018 adivay festival program, said that it is almost automatic on the part of the senators to approve bills of local application like the pending bills on the establishment of the ARC once the concerned Senate committee will report out the matter.

However, the senator claimed that committee and plenary deliberations on all pending bills with national and local concern will have to be temporarily shelved to pave the way for the herrings that will be scheduled on the P3.757 trillion proposed national budget next year considering that the House of Representatives took some time in transmitting the budget to the upper chamber.

“I have no problem when the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill will be calendared for deliberations in the Senate. It is almost automatic for us senators to act on the matter, especially when the bill of local application mandated from the House where it is understood that concerned congressmen have fought for its approval,” Sentor Villar stressed.

Aside from House Bill (HB) 5343 seeking the establishment of the ARC now pending in the House committee on local government, Senate Bill (SB) 1678 authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, SB 1923 authored by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito and SB 1930 authored by Senator Paulo Benigno Bam Aquino IV, all seeking the creation of the ARC, are now pending in the Senate committee on local government chaired by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara.

The region’s renewed quest for autonomy is being strongly supported by the office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) under the leadership of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) led by Secretary Adelino Sitoy II and the Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon heeded by Secretary Raul Lambino.

Senator Villar pointed that Cordillera congressmen who earlier authored HB 5343 will work double time to have the bill be calendared for plenary debates so that it could be transmitted to the Senate the soonest for the enactment of the upper chamber’s counterpart measure.

Autonomy advocates in the region asserted that there is no reason why both chambers of Congress will not favorably act on the pending autonomy bills because the same have similar basis that was used in the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is Section 15 to 21, rticle 10 of the 1987 Constitution that mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao.

Secretary Dureza claimed that after the passage into law of the BOL, the Duterte administration will concentrate on the enactment into law of the cordillera autonomy bill to complete the government’s peace initiatives in the north and for the Cordillerans to embrace the long overdue autonomous status due to them.

By HENT

BANNER PHOTO: Senator Cynthia Villar applauded the people of Benguet for their resilience and their will to rise up every after any calamity in her keynote message during the 118th Benguet Foundation Anniversary and the Adivay Festival celebration at the Benguet Provincial Capitol. Villar stressed that the people of Benguet are known to be strong and rise again after any calamity that affects them. RMC PIA-CAR

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