BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) reported the sustained growth in local and national support to the region’s renewed quest for autonomy while awaiting the passage of pending autonomy bills in both chambers of Congress.
NEDA-CAR regional director Milagros A. Rimando reported to the joint meeting of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPO-CAR) that 2018 saw the increase in support of various national partners to the region’s advocacy for regional autonomy.
She disclosed that 13 major activities were conducted as part of the alliance building thrust reaching over 4,000 stakeholders who were engaged in different occasions.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) which was headed by former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza sustained its overwhelming support to advocate for regional autonomy and through the assistance of OPAPP and the Cotabato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), the Congressional Forum on Cordillera Autonomy and Federalism was held on January 17, 2018.
The NEDA-CAR official revealed that following the said forum, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Senate Bill (SB) 1678 as the Senate counterpart bill of House Bill (HB) 5343 or the lower House version of the Cordillera autonomy bill.
She added that together with OPAPP, IAG and NEDA-CAR, the said offices co-organized the February 15, 2018 Cordillera and Bangsamoro autonomy advocates meeting which was held in Baguio city that resulted to positive insights on the region’s clamor for self-governance.
Rimando noted that to manifest his commitment to the Cordillera people, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed two Cordillerans, Dr. Virgilio Bautista and Atty. Lawrence Wacnang, in the Constitutional Commission (ConCom) to review the 1987 Constitution and draft the federal charter that will address the problems of the country which ensure the inclusion of several key provisions of the draft Cordillera Organic Act in the draft federal charter which is now being subjected to consultations nationwide.
On the other hand, she claimed that public consultations were also spearheaded by the Cordillera congressmen who are also authors of HB 5343 in partnership with NEDA-CAR on April 19, 2018 and Mountain Province on July 12, 2018 wherein the consultations were aimed at gathering additional inputs to improve the draft Organic Act.
Last August 14, 2018, the House committee on local government conducted an initial public hearing on HB 5343 wherein Mindanao lawmakers declared their support for the immediate passage of the proposed autonomy law in the lower House.
Moreover, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) through Secretary Adelino Sitoy, Undersecretary Ryan Esteves and Assistant Secretary Orville Balitoc, who hails from Ifugao, also committed their support for the issuance of the certification of the pending autonomy bills as an urgent administration measure in both chambers of Congress.
By Dexter A. See