BAGUIO CITY – Members of the House committee on local government will be going around the Cordillera starting April 19, 2018 to conduct the required public hearings to gather the sentiments of the people on House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera before coming out with a report recommending the passage of the proposed law.
The committee members will be in Baguio City for the public hearing covering Baguio City and Benguet on April 19 before moving to Abra on April 20, 2018 for the conduct of a similar gathering that will involve concerned stakeholders from the said province.
(Editor’s note: The Abra hearing is rescheduled to May, and will include hearings for other provinces, according to NEDA-SPCAR)
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, chairman of both the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), said the conduct of public hearings by the House committee on local government in the different parts of the region in relation to HB 5343 is definitely a welcome development because the bill will be tackled even without the promised certification from the Office of the President that the proposed autonomy law is an urgent administration measure.
HB 5343 which seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera was authored by all the congressmen, Abra Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño 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 C. Mangaoang and the late Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr..
“It is celar that we want autonomy towards federalism or autonomy within a federal state whichever will come first because the Cordillera has to remain as a united region or else we will again be divided and we will surely lose our established identity to other bigger regions and provinces,” Domogan stressed.
The RDC and RPOC chairman expressed optimism that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will remain committed to his promise to support the Cordillera by eventually issuing the coveted certification that HB 5343 is a priority administration measure to fastrack its approval in both chambers before the planed shift to federal form of government.
IN his visit to Bangued, Abra last month, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza explained that the Office of the President decided to issue the certification for HB 5343 as a priority administration measure after the House committee on local government shall have come out with the recommended version of the proposed autonomy bill based on the series of consultations that will be conducted regionwide while Congress is still on Holy Week break.
Secretary Dureza assured Cordillera leaders that the certification will be issued soon because even the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has not yet been certified as urgent by the President considering that what is currently being done is for the consolidation of all the versions into a single bill which will be the one that will eventually be certified by President Duterte.
The Palace official urged Cordillerans to continue informing and educating the people about the real essence of autonomy which should be the way to go for the region because it has its legal mandate as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution while federalism will remain as the government’s last option.