BAGUIO CITY – Former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza urged Cordillera autonomy advocates to sustain the gains of the region’s renewed quest for autonomy until the realization of the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) will be realized in the future.
Dureza, who was instrumental in the first-ever visit of all Cordillera Officials to Malacañang Palace on July 18, 2017 for a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, underscored that there is a need for autonomy advocates to capitalize on the gains of the quest for autonomy in aggressively advancing the clamor for self-governance so that the missing link in the government’s overall peace agenda could be achieved in the north as the similar component in the south had already been realized through the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
He said Mindanao lawmakers remain committed to their earlier pronouncements to support the passage of the proposed Cordillera Autonomy Bill once the same will be calendared for deliberation in the plenary of the House as an expression of their gratitude to the Cordillera lawmakers who supported the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that resulted to the establishment of the BARMM.
The former Palace official commended all the Cordillera congressmen for having filed House Bill (HB) 5687 or the bill that seeks to establish the ARC but urged the lawmakers to facilitate its passage in the committee level so that the same will be deliberated in the plenary wherein the much awaited certification from the President could be issued for the same to be passed considering that it is a priority administration measure.
According to him, the commitment of support to the Cordillera quest for autonomy remains but it is now up to the Cordillera congressman to work out such commitments to the eventual passage of the proposed legislative measure until the same shall have been signed by the President and fir the proposed law to be ratified by the Cordillerans in a plebiscite that will be called for the said purpose in the future.
Dureza pointed out that the BARMM is doing well in its initial operation wherein whatever were the defects of the earlier autonomous region was already corrected and that the Cordillera should reflect its gains so that it will be able to replicate its best practices once the ARC will be established.
He challenged autonomy advocates to take advantage of the enabling environment provided by the President for the achievement of the ARC because the region will not be sure on what will be the take of the next administration on the clamor for the creation of the ARC.
The former peace adviser stated that it is not yet too late for the Cordillera congressmen to start working out the passage of the proposed autonomy law in the committee level so that the plebiscite for the establishment of the ARC could either be conducted simultaneous with the May 2022 synchronized national and local elections or even earlier depending on when will the law be passed by Congress and eventually signed into law by the President so that efforts for its ratification will be scheduled by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Illustration by Don Ray Ramos