BAGUIO CITY – The chairman of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) underscored the proposal of some sectors in the region for the reactivation of the disbanded Cordillera bodies is no longer practical because the RDC-CAR has been empowered by law to perform the functions of the said bodies.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chairs the RDC-CAR and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in the Cordillera, said the proposed reactivation of the CAR bodies, particularly the Cordillera Executive Board (CEB), Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA), and the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA), will surely take some time and could be overtaken by events, especially in the region’s renewed quest for autonomy and the planned shift to federal form of government by the present administration.
Executive Order No. 220 created the CAR bodies purposely to prepare the region for the realization of its autonomous status pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution.
“We hope that those who are pushing for the reactivation of the CAR bodies will join the RDC-CAR and other autonomy advocates in aggressively advocating for the enactment of the proposed bill mandating the establishment of the autonomous region in the Cordillera,” Domogan stressed.
While it is true that the CAR bodies had not been actually abolished, the local chief executive explained it was Congress that technically abolished their existence after it did not provide the budget to sustain their past operations.
Further, he added the assets and liabilities of the CAR bodies were also liquidated and now under the Office of the President. Their proposed reactivation will be solely dependent on the actions of the President and Congress, which to date is unlikely.
After the disbandment of the CAR bodies, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 18, series of 2001 that created the RDC-CAR defining its functions that included the duties and responsibilities of the Cordillera bodies.
The technical abolition of the CAR bodies was questioned by concerned sectors before the Supreme Court (SC) but the High Court upheld the power of Congress in providing for the budget of agencies which deserve to be allocated funds for their operations among others.
However, the SC ruled in the same case that it is hoped Congress will be able to enact an autonomy law that will be acceptable to the Cordillerans to realize the constitutional provision that mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera.
Congress was constrained to provide the CAR bodies a P1 budget because the former CEB, CAR and CBA officials had been engaged in petty bickering that allegedly contributed to the derailment efforts of the region to achieve autonomy, considering that the former officials were busy exchanging accusations instead of concentrating on efforts to inform and educate the people on the importance of the region achieving autonomous status.
By Dexter A. See