The achievement of the autonomous status for the Cordillera is still the way to go in advancing the state of development, establishing the permanent regional identity of Cordillerans and ensuring progress for all, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said here recently.
Domogan, who chairs both the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR), said that the recent drafting of the enhanced autonomy bill in preparation for filing in the upcoming 18th Congress is a good start for the region’s autonomy movement considering that the 17th Congress is already virtually closed.
“We continue to welcome proposed inputs from all sectors of the region to help enhance the contents of the proposed autonomy bill so that it will be ready for filing once the 18th Congress will open its first regular session by July this year. We need to file the proposed autonomy bill as early as possible so that we will not be caught by time constraint when the bill will be deliberate in the committee level and during plenary debates” Domogan stressed.
He underscored what is important is for the soon to be elected lawmakers in the different local governments to have the same passion as the autonomy advocates to advance the proposed legislation in Congress considering that the RDC-CAR was able to establish the appropriate linkages with Cabinet officials and other Mindanao-based lawmakers who will support the passage of the bill once submitted for committee and plenary hearings.
According to him, much of the networking was already done by the RDC and RPOC over the past several years that is why it is important for the future members of both regional bodies to sustain the established linkages and add up to what was started to gain more autonomy allies not only in both chambers of Congress but also within the inner circle of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that seeks to establish the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera was authored by all Cordillera congressmen and the same was filed in the House of Representatives by the middle of 2017.
On the other hand, Senate Bill (SB) 1789 authored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, SB 1923 authored by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito and SB 1930 authored by Senator Paolo Benigno Bam Aquino IV serve as the counterpart bills for the establishment of the ARC which are now pending in the Senate committee on local government.
In 2006, the RDC-CAR embraced autonomy as its overarching agenda to contribute in efforts to spur the region’s economic growth considering that the ARC that will be established will be able to craft programs, projects and policies that are applicable in the region instead of the Cordillera being tied up to the national standards apart from formulating activities that will contribute in moving the people out of the shackles of poverty.
Domogan asserted that the Cordillera is still a special temporary administrative region considering that Executive Order No. 220 that created the Cordillera Administrative Region was issued when former President Corazon C. Aquino was exercising both executive and legislative powers under the revolutionary government, thus, its existence could be stricken out anytime and the local governments comprising the region will be again distributed to their original regions. Abra, Baguio City, Benguet and Mountain Province in Region I and Kalinga, Apayao and Ifugao in Region II.
By Dexter A. See
Banner Illustration by Don Ray Ramos