BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) passed Resolution No. 02, series of 2017 adopting a regional road map for Cordillera autonomy before the projected transition towards a federal system of government being espoused by the Duterte administration.
The region’s policy-making body chaired by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan stated that the Cordillera Regional Development Plan since 2006 has regional autonomy as its overarching goal to which development efforts and imperatives shall be directed and the RDC-CAR, through the Social Preparation of the Cordillera into an autonomous region program, has since then implemented information education campaign, capability-building and alliance building projects and activities to increase awareness of the people on autonomy and strengthen the support network for its pursuit for Cordillera self-determination.
The RDC-CAR recognizes that federalism can strengthen local government units through the devolution of powers, responsibilities and resources from the central government to the local governments and the current administration headed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte has shown preference for a shift from a unitary to a federal government.
While federalism seem to be the future of governance in the country, the RDC-CAR pointed out that it crafted a Cordillera autonomy road map indicating a unified desire for regional autonomy first while awaiting the establishment of a federal system of government and being a separate federal state by itself once a federal arrangement is operationalized.
According to the RDC-CAR, the Cordillera autonomy road map 2017-2019 evolved from various consultations conducted by the RDC with its advisory committee, executive committee, and SP CAR partners composed of the local government units, civil society organizations, Cordillera Association of Regional Executives (CARE) and other sectoral groups.
Included in the strategies adopted by the RDC-CAR in the road map is the projected increase in the awareness of Cordillerans on the region’s renewed pursuit year so that the election of the officials of the regional government will be done simultaneous with the May 2019 mid-term elections.
The RDC-CAR enhanced its information and education campaign materials for autonomy from 54 percent in 2015 to 76 percent in 2017, increased support of the Cordillerans for autonomy from only 26 percent in 2015 to 62 percent this year, reduced proportion of undecided Cordillerans from 54 percent in 2015 to 24 percent this year, pursue the enactment of the proposed autonomy law anytime this year, and subsequently schedule the plebiscite anytime and engaged various stakeholders in the quest for autonomy, specifically the barangay officials, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs), government agencies, senior citizens, farmers, cooperatives, religious sectors among others.
The RDC-CAR increased the frequency of grassroots information and education campaign in the different batches of priority municipalities to reach out to more Cordillerans for them to understand the real essence of autonomy for them to convince more people to favour autonomy when submitted to the people for ratification during a plebiscite.
By Dexter A. See