Unity Gong Relay culminates in Ifugao

LAGAWE, Ifugao – The week-long Unity Gong Relay will culminate in Lamut town here Saturday in time for the main program prepared by the provincial government and the Cordillera office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-CAR) for the celebration of the 31st founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region on Sunday, July 15, 2018.

The Unity Gong Relay fired off in Banaue town Monday with no less than Gov. Pedro G. Mayam-o spearheading the ceremony as well as leading the Ifugao delegation in the turnover of the coveted gong to Mountain Province officials led by Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. in the provincial boundary at Mount Polis on the same day.

Mayam-o pointed out that Ifugaos are already well informed and educated about the real essence of autonomy which the Cordillerans had been fighting for over three decades now, thus, the province is only awaiting the conduct of the required plebiscite for an enacted autonomy law for them to vote yes and that they are only awaiting for another province who will vote yes for autonomy so that the autonomous region will be created.

He jokingly said in his turnover message in Bontoc, Mountain province that if Ifugao and Mountain Province will vote yes for autonomy, the regional center will be established in Mount Polis to jumpstart the spread of development in the said areas.

For his part, Lacwasan underscored that Cordillerans are honored to be part of the two regions in the country that were given the opportunity to become autonomous that is why now is the time to achieve autonomy because of the enabling situation considering the support of President Rodrigo Duterte to the region’s renewed quest for autonomy.

Kalinga Rep. and mountain Province caretaker congressman Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang said that while there are challenges and obstacles that confront the region’s renewed quest for autonomy, Cordillerans must continue advancing the achievement of autonomy vis-à-vis the administration’s plan to shift to federal form of government since the constitutional and legal basis for the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao had been laid down in the 1987 Constitution.

Kalinga Gov. Jocel C. Baac pointed out that achieving autonomy is giving justice to the supreme sacrifices of leaders from the region who fought for the preservation and protection of the region’s resources and ancestral domain from the abuses of multinational companies as well as ensuring the intact environment for the benefit of the present and future generations.

On the other hand, Apayao Gov. Elias C. Bulut, Jr. asserted that autonomy will be for the benefit of the present and future generations of Cordillerans because the youth will be the ones that will reap the fruits of growth and development once the autonomous region will be established and will work for the betterment of the greater majority of the populace.

Abra Gov. Maria Jocelyn V. Bernos said that autonomy will be the region’s driver for growth and development considering that there will be decentralization of powers and resources to allow local governments to develop at their own pace using the prevailing situations to their own advantage.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged Cordilleans to continue drum beating the region’s renewed quest for autonomy so that the national government will continue supporting the enactment of the autonomy law without being muddled by Congress so that the people will be convinced to ratify the autonomy law when submitted to them for ratification during a plebiscite that will be scheduled for the purpose.

Benguet Gov. Crescencio C. Pacalso claimed that concerned stakeholders in the region should work together so that the region will remain intact and no locality will be left out so that all local governments in the region will have the chance to develop for the people to enjoy the fruits of development maximizing the benefits of the proper utilization of the region’s available resources.

Cordillera leaders continue to prod lawmakers from the region to facilitate the immediate passage of the Organic Act in the 17th Congress so that the Cordillera will be able to achieve autonomous status before the shift to federal form of government so that the region will be in a better position leverage for its existence as an autonomous region within a federal state or a separate federal state.

By Dexter A. See

UNITY GONG RELAY – Ifugao Governor Pedro Mayam-o leads the beating of the gong during the Cordillera Unity Gong Relay kick off program at the Banaue Hotel in Ifugao on Monday. The Cordillera Unity Gong Relay is a major activity of the 31st Cordillera Month celebration hosted by the province of Ifugao. The gong relay was conceived by the RDC in its search for an activity that would draw all the provinces and the City of Baguio in the pursuit of regional autonomy. The symbolic unity gong is moved from one province to another. The governors or their representatives serve as relayer and receiver usually at the political boundary area or at the seat of governance. They take turn in beating the gong at a designated area to sound-off the call for unity and they gave out messages on the move towards regional autonomy. RMC PIA-CAR

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