QUEZON CITY – The House committee on local government recently lined up House Bill (HB) 5343 or the lower House version of the bill that seeks to establish an Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) for initial deliberation on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.
Cordillera leaders and private sector representatives are attending the scheduled hearing where the members of the House committee hope to elicit Cordillera peoples’ positions on the proposed autonomy law which will be the basis for the said body to make recommendation for the approval of the bill by the plenary.
HB 5343, authored by all Cordillera congress representatives, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang and the late Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr., is now pending with the House committee on local government.
Cordillera congress representatives manifested during the deliberations of the BOL that after the enactment of the said law, the House committee should also calendar the proposed autonomy law for deliberation and subsequent approval because of the same constitutional basis with the BOL aside from the fact that the commitment for the establishment of an Autonomous Region in the Cordillera is a product of a peace agreement between the Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera Peoples liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) and the government.
During the public hearings in Baguio, Benguet and Mountain Province spearheaded by the concerned lawmakers with the authority of the leadership of the House committee on local government, leaders and stakeholders showed their overwhelming commitment and support to the region’s renewed quest for autonomy which is aligned with the present administration’s planned shift to federal form of government.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chairs both the RDC-CAR and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), requested the members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to cull out the BOL and proposed federal charter provisions that are applicable to the Cordillera so that it will be introduced as amendments to HB 5343 once it will be calendared for deliberations so that the House committee can come out with a consolidated version of the proposed autonomy law the soonest.
Cordillera congressmen expect the passage of the proposed autonomy law in the committee level because it was agreed upon among the members of the committee that the matter will be next to be tackled in their level once the BOL will be enacted into law, aside from the support that they showed to the BOL, thus, Mindanao lawmakers are also expected to reciprocate the support by voting in favour of the autonomy bill.
Section 15, Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao as a means to enhance the socio-economic development in the two regions that were neglected by the national government over the past several decades.
By Dexter A. See