LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – An ally of the Aquino administration cited the government is not abandoning its obligation to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera but it is best for the people to await whatever will be the outcome of the on-going congressional debates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because it will serve as a template for the region’s autonomy law.
Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, chairman of the House committee on public works, revealed while he has still reservations on the BBL because of numerous constitutional inconsistencies of the pending bill, Cordillerans will be able to likely learn from the good provisions of the bill which could be incorporated in the region’s own version which is also pending in the House of Representatives committee on local government.
“WE have still reservations on the BBL but we are awaiting the outcome of the final law that will be passed in both chambers, especially in addressing the constitutional issues so that we will be able to use them to our advantage and to strengthen our bargaining power with the national government,” Cosalan stressed.
The lawmaker explained one of his concerns in the BBL is the delegation of the power of the State over its natural resources to the Bangsamoro government considering that such power cannot be delegated, thus, the need first to amend the Constitution prior to the passage of the BBL.
According to him, if such provision will pass the constitutional test, then it would be good for the Cordillera autonomy bill to incorporate the same so that Cordillerans will be able to demand from the national government to have a bigger share of the resources being exploited, developed and utilized in the region.
He said the Cordillera will be one of the fastest developing regions once it will be able to include in the provisions of the autonomy law a greater share from the resources developed from the region’s territory.
Cosalan argued there is no question that autonomy will result greater opportunities for development in the future but the desired autonomy law must be tailor-fit for the needs of Cordillerans although there will be numerous lessons to be learned from the on-going BBL debates in Congress.
He explained one of the reasons why Cordillera congressmen are supportive of the BBL is that it would be easier for them to also get the support of Mindanao congressmen once the autonomy law for the Cordillera will be submitted to the plenary for debates in the future.
House Bill (HB) 4649 which seeks to establish the autonomous region in the Cordillera was filed by the seven Cordillera congressmen, Abra Rep. Marioa Locelyn Valera Bernos, Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Baguio City Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping, Jr., Benguet Rep. Cosalan, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and embattled Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr. on June 11, 2014 and it has been pending in the House committee on local government for over a year now.
Cosalan disclosed he will support the conduct of a series of public consultations in the region which will be initiated by the House committee on local government this month in order to ascertain the real sentiments of the people on the region’s renewed pursuit for self-governance pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. By Dexter A. See