BAGUIO CITY – Cordillera leaders expressed optimism that the region’s renewed quest for autonomy will be included as a part of the third senate of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte which will be delivered during the opening of the third regular session of Congress at the Batasan Complex on Monday, July 23, 2018.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chairs the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR), said the appropriate communication letters have already been sent to President Duterte informing him of the verdant desire of Cordillerans for the inclusion of the region’s quest for autonomy as a part of his SONA this year considering that the enactment of the Bansamoro Basic Law (BBL) which is one of his major priorities was already realized.
He underscored that both the BBL and the pending Cordillera autonomy bills in both chambers of Congress have similar basis which is Section 15, Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution that is why House Bill (HB) 5343 and Senate Bill (SB) 1678 should not be left out in the president’s priority legislations for the year.
However, whether or not the President will include the quest for autonomy in his SONA, the momentum that autonomy advocates have gained over the past several years should not be weakened but instead be enhanced to send the clear message to the national leaders that what the people in the region want is autonomy towards federalism.
“Let us keep our fingers crossed that the President will be able to include in his SONA our clamor for regional autonomy for our lawmakers to understand the need to already pass the pending autonomy bills in both chambers of Congress so that we will start working on the establishment of an autonomous region,” Domogan stressed.
Ifugao Gov. Pedro Mayam-o supported the position of the RDC and RPOC for the possible inclusion of the quest for autonomy in his SONA because it will convince lawmakers to immediately act on the bills for the region to be able to advance its clamor for autonomy.
HB 5343 was authored by all Cordillera congressmen while SB 1678 was authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri who is also serving as the Senate Majority Floor Leader.
Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr. added Cordillerans are eager to actively participate in a plebiscite that will be scheduled once the autonomy law will be enacted and the results will surely be positive on autonomy as Cordillerans were able to realize the serious negative effects of being included in the bureaucracy where all policies emanate from the central government without considering the prevailing situation on the ground like what has been happening in the Cordillera over the past three decades.
Cordillerans overwhelmingly rejected the two previous Organic Acts that were submitted to them for ratification because the contents of the first autonomy bill was not in conformity to the results of the consultations conducted by the Cordillera Regional Consultative Committee (CRCC) that was tasked to draft the autonomy law while the second Organic Act was an improved version of the first one but there was lack of material time to conduct the required information education campaign since the plebiscite was scheduled during an election year where the concentration of the electorate were on the personalities seeking various national and local elected positions.
By Dexter A. See