BANGUED, Abra – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza assured Cordillera leaders that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will fulfill his promise of certifying as urgent House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that seeks to establish the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) once the final version of the proposed law will be agreed upon in Congress.
Dureza, who visited the province Wednesday to dialogue with the unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) command headed by Vice Governor Ronald Balao-as and the autonomy information and education campaign of the Regional Development Council (RDC), pointed out that the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill will have to follow the track that was taken by the consolidated version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) wherein the final version will be the once that will be certified as a priority administration by the President.
“We assure our Cordillera leaders that President Duterte is inclined to support the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy by certifying whatever will be the agreed final version of the bill right after the public consultations that will be done in the different parts of the region,” Secretary Dureza stressed.
The Palace official revealed that he will attend some of the public consultations that will be conducted by the House committee on local government in the region next month in relation to HB 5343 because as an adopted son of the Cordillera given the name ‘mensapit’ or peace advocate, he will champion the renewed quest for autonomy with the present administration and with the snowballing support of Cordillerans.
According to him, President Duterte has not yet actually certified as urgent the BBL because he allowed Congress to first conduct the required consultations to gather the sentiment of the concerned stakeholders on the issue, thus, the existence of the consolidated version which will be the one that will be certified and it will be the same track that will be followed by HB 5343.
Dureza claimed that he was able to already talk to South Cotabato 1st district Rep. Pedro Acharon, chairman of the House committee on local government, to calendar the required public consultations around the region while Congress will be on recess so that appropriate inputs could be gathered to improve the contents of the autonomy law and formulate the final version which will be the one that will be submitted to the Presdient for eventual certification.
He explained that it is important that the final version of the autonomy will be the one that will be certified as priority administration measure so that its approval will be smooth sailing in both chambers once the Palace document will be made available to the lawmakers.
Dureza asserted Cordillerans should rally behind their lawmakers in supporting the passage of the autonomy bill because it is the first time that all Cordillera congressmen authored the bill aside from the fact that the region’s renewed quest for autonomy will be the third and final crack of the region towards realizing self-governance.
Initial, the House committee will hold the initial public consultations in Baguio and Benguet on April 18, 2018 before proceeding to Abra for a similar occasion on April 19-20, 2018 and that other schedules in the other areas in the region will be announced later.
By Dexter A. See