PASAY CITY – Former President Fidel V. Ramos rallied Cordillerans to take advantage of the prevailing enabling environment by working for the realization of the establishment of an Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) which will be the region’s vehicle in advancing the growth and development of remote villages located regionwide.
The former Chief Executive graced the program organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace process (OPAPP), Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) and the Regional development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the historic Mount Data peace agreement that ended the hostilities between the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) and the government forces.
Ramos cited various instances where indigenous peoples (IPs) have to struggle for recognition by the government that is why the enabling environment presented by the administration of President Duterte should be the opportune time to be taken advantage by the Cordillerans to achieve the mandate of the Constitution for the establishment of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.
He narrated that he was with former President Corazon C. Aquino as one of her top military advisers when the historic Mount Data peace accord was signed at the Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province on ?September 13, 1986 and that he believes that peace is a major catalyst of local and national development.
The former President displayed his ability to perform his signature jump and challenged the participants of the program to do the same with him which received cheers from the crowd who were amused of his ability to do his signature jump even at the age of 90.
PLLO Secretary Adelino Sitoy assured Cordillerans that his office is currently working out the inclusion of the region’s quest for autonomy in the President’s priority Legislative Agenda and the Common Legislative Agenda of both the executive and legislative branches and the subsequent issuance of the long overdue certification that the pending autonomy bills in both chambers of Congress are urgent priority administration measures that must be acted upon with dispatch.
Sitoy underscored that that the realisation of autonomy will be the government’s justification in effectively and efficiently addressing the injustices that previous administrations have committed to the IPs of the region through the provision of sufficient funding for the implementation of priority development projects that will jumpstart economic development in the countryside.
For his part, Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza claimed that now that the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) had been enacted into law, the administration will now focus on the enactment of the autonomy bill of the Cordillera to complete the peace initiatives in both south and hort.
Durea urged Cordillrans to continue the information and education campaign on the region’s renewed quest for autonomy so that the people will be convinced to ratify the autonomy once submitted to them during a plebiscite to be scheduled for the purpose.
The Palace official claimed that Cordillans must continue the unity that they were able to establish through the past several years because it will play a key role in charting the future of autonomy once the law will be enacted and eventually signed by the President into law.
He emphasized that despite the region’s diversed culture and traditions, it is important for Cordillerans to know, understand and work on the diversity to allow the region to achieve what it is supposed to achieve in the future.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chairs both the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR), expressed his gratitude to the Cordillera leaders and concerned stakeholders who took time in attending the celebration of the historic Mount Data peace agreement because it only shows their unwavering support and commitment for the realization of the long ove4rdue quest for self-governance.
He pointed out that autonomy will be the gift of the present generation of Cordillerans to their children and their children’s children because self-rule will help propel socio-economic growth, especially in the areas that were left out in terms of development considering that the autonomous government will have the opportunity to craft applicable rules that will govern the implementation of priority programs, projects and activities suitable to the prevailing situation in the region.
Pending before the House committee on local government is House Bill (HB) 5343 authored by all Cordillera congressmen, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulug-Begtang, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., and Kalinga Rep. and Mountain Province caretaker congressman Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang, that seeks to establish the ARC while its counterpart bills, Senate Bill 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 are now pending with the Senate committee on local government chaired by Senator Edgardo Angara.
Banner photo: KAYA NATIN ‘TO – Former President Fidel V. Ramos, left, supports Cordillera autonomy during the commemoration of the Mt. Data Sipat at Philippine International Convention Center on September 13, 2018. The peace agreement ended the hostilities between the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and the Government Forces. JOSEPH B. MANZANO