BAGUIO CITY – The quest for the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) can still be won in the future with the ongoing aggressive information and education campaign being undertaken by the Regional Development Council (RDC) and concerned stakeholders in the different parts of the region, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said here Wednesday.
Dar, who is also the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) of the Cordillera, was the guest of honor and speaker during the main program of the celebration of the 33rd founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) held at the University of the Philippines College Baguio (UPCB) gymnasium.
Aside from pursuing the quest for self-governance, the agriculture official pointed out that the Cordillera should continue striving for socio-economic development through the various programs and projects being currently implemented by the government agencies because it will sustain the self-reliance and resiliency of the people in hurdling poverty.
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On the part of the DA, Secretary Dar committed the P1.1 billion annual budget of the agency for the development of agriculture in the region that should translate to improved economic opportunities that will provide available employment opportunities and sources of livelihood for the people. He informed Cordillera leaders that President Rodrigo R. Duterte remains committed in fulfilling his promise to support the region’s quest for autonomy apart from laying the foundation for socio-economic development to give justice to the decades of struggle by autonomy advocates for self-governance primarily due to the unique state of the Cordillera as a bastion of rich culture and traditions of indigenous peoples.
According to him, Cordillerans must use the lessons learned from the two failed plebiscites to aggressively advance the quest for self-rule so that the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of the autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera will be fully realized.
The DA Secretary claimed that the failure of the Cordillera to achieve autonomy after 33 years should not be a cause of alarm or the subject of despair by the Cordillerans but it should serve as a continuous motivation for the present and future generations to elevate the ongoing information and education campaign to a higher level to ensure people internalize the real essence of autonomy.
He stated the quest for autonomy by the Cordillerans has been a long overdue struggle that must already be realized during the present administration because of the enabling environment provided by the President, being a staunch advocate of federalism or the need to empower local governments to be self-reliant to expand the opportunities for development in the countryside.
Secretary Dar rallied Cordillerans to keep the fire burning in the quest for autonomy to show to the national government the dire need for establishing the long overdue autonomous region because of the peculiar situation of the Cordillera compared to the other parts of the country in terms of all aspects of development in an area dominated by indigenous peoples.
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