BAGUIO CITY – Some P12 million was earmarked by the national government in its 2018 budget for the Cordillera office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) and the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) to sustain the initial gains of the campaign for region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy.
NEDA-CAR regional director Milgaros A. Rimando said that the allotted fund this year is lower compared to the P15 million that they agency had been receiving since the RDC-CAR embarked on autonomy as its overarching agenda to jumpstart massive development regionwide over a decade ago.
The NEDA-CAR official, who is also serving as the RDC-CAR vice chairperson, explained the reduction on the funds was primarily due to the alleged unused funds in the previous years aside from the issues on the failure of the agency’s partners to liquidate funds downloaded to them.
Rimando reported the matter to the agency’s information and education campaign (IEC) and alliance building partners during their annual conference at the Aureo’s Hotels and Resort in San Fernando City, La Union last December 28-29, 2017.
“The slight reduction on the funds given to the NEDA-CAR and RDC-CAR for the campaign will not greatly affect the gains that the region has achieved with regards the clamor for autonomy over the past ten years. We will simply prioritize the projects to be funded this year with emphasis on grassroots information and education campaign for us to be able to inculcate to the minds of Cordillerans the essence of having an autonomous region,” Rimnando stressed.
She disclosed that government agencies, local governments and accredited civil society organizations are still required to submit their proposals for information education campaign, alliance building and project monitoring and evaluation to be funded from the allotted funding to contribute in increasing the awareness of Cordillerans on the region’s renewed quest for autonomy with the goal that they will vote for the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera once the autonomy law will be enacted and brought to the people for ratification during a plebiscite in the future.
According to her, autonomy has been seen by many as the one that will jumpstart aggressive development in the countryside because the autonomous regional government will have greater control of the region’s resources with lesser restraint from outside bodies and it will also definitely establish the permanent regional identity of the Cordillera, address oppressive policies and guarantee progress for all.
The 1987 Constitution provides for the establishment of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.
Subsequently, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was established a few years since the effectivity of the Constitution while the two attempts of the Cordillera to achieve autonomy failed after the people overwhelmingly rejected the two Organic Acts that were submitted to them for ratification during separate plebsicites due to reaons of lack of information dissemination and understanding on the contents of the autonomy laws that were passed.
By Dexter A. See