BAGUIO CITY – The chairman of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) emphasized that the renewed quest for autonomy is still the best option for the region instead of joining the supposed bandwagon for the segregation of the Cordillera as an independent federal state.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chairs the RDC-CAR and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR), said the establishment of the autonomous region in the Cordillera has already been enshrined in the 1987 Constitution thus it has the sufficient legal basis, while the planned shift to a federal form of government entails the amendment of the Constitution which take time because it will go a long way aside from the fact that the proposed constitutional change will have to be ratified by the Filipino people.
He underscored that Cordillerans should reflect on the fact that the officials and the people of Mindanao are strongly supporting the revised Bangsamoro Basic Law, the counterpart of the proposed Organic Act for the Cordillera, and not federalism, even if it is being advocated by the present administration.
Under a federal state, the local chief executive emphasized it will be the state that will generate its resources for its operation aside from the share of the federal government that it will be obliged to remit from its internal sources. In an autonomous set up the powers and benefits that local governments are enjoying, such as the internal revenue allotment and budget of the national agencies, among others, will not be diminished apart from the subsidy provided by the national government for the first 10 years of existence of the autonomous region.
At present, the total IRA of all local governments regionwide is P14.8 billion, the total budget of the national government agencies for their programs and projects being implemented solely in the region is more than P28 billion, while the internally generated resources of the local governments amount to P10 billion. That sums up to around P52 billion being circulated in the region annually.
According to him, the annual P52 billion worth of programs and projects in the region will not be diminished in an autonomous set up, which will be complimented by the P75 billion subsidy for the local governments in the region spread out over a period of 10 years. In a federal set up, the IRA and funds for the national agencies will no longer be provided because the said agencies will be abolished and replaced with employees of the ,state and the state will have to generate its own resources for its state employees, programs, and projects.
He claimed the RDC-CAR continues to make the necessary representations with the Office of the President through Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza to include the deliberations of the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill with the upcoming hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, pursuant to the commitment of President Rodrigo R. Duterte for the two bills to be simultaneously certified as priority administration measures during their meeting in the Palace last July 18, 2017.
By Dexter A. See