BAGUIO CITY – Despite the global pandemic and the national state of emergency and corresponding community quarantine, Cordillerans witnessed the increasing momentum of the legislation for establishing the autonomous region of the Cordillera. These messages were in celebration the 33rd founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in July led by the Regional Development Council Economic Sectoral Committee, chaired by the CAR office of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Secretariat of the Regional Development Council, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR).
House of Representatives Committee on Local Government Chairman and Tarlac 3rd District Congressman Noel Villanueva and Assistant Secretary Orville Ballitoc of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) expressed support to the pursuit of regional autonomy and greeted the Cordillerans in the celebration of the Cordillera Administrative Region’s 33rd founding anniversary this July.
“The challenges brought about by the current pandemic underscores the importance of greater autonomy to local government units”, said Congressman Villanueva. He called the establishment of autonomy in the region alongside the Bangsamoro a “Constitutional command”. Villanueva then urged, “the people of the Cordilleras together with their Local Government Officials and their fellow leaders to work hand-in-hand, unified in action, singular in purpose and direction to craft and pass the enabling law on the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region.”
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Likewise, Assistant Secretary Orville Ballitoc committed his office, the PLLO, to push and exert all efforts in shepherding the Cordillera autonomy bill to become a priority bill of the administration. Ballitoc recalled the manifesto of support to Cordillera autonomy signed by the PLLO, with the CAR representatives in Congress, the RDC, Regional Peace and Order Council, and private sector representatives of the region, last December 12, 2019 during the Multi-Stakeholders’ Gathering on Cordillera Autonomy which he intends to uphold. Ballitoc calls on Cordillerans to take this year’s celebration as an opportunity to come together as one, whether face-to-face or virtual, so that the goal of autonomy of the region shall soon be realized.
Cordillera Congress representatives echoed these sentiments in their own addresses commemorating CAR’s founding anniversary. Baguio City Congressman Mark Go said that while the journey in pursuing Cordillera autonomy has been difficult and continues to be tough, Cordillerans should not lose faith. He urged his fellow Cordillerans to use the same resilience shown during this pandemic to “strengthen our communities more until we internalize the fact that we are one indivisible region.”
Mountain Province Congressman Maximo Dalog, Jr. called on the help of his fellow Cordillerans to support House Bill 5687 which he said will provide the region the needed foundation to pursue sustainable development stating that “the covid-19 pandemic elicited the unity of our people.”
Kalinga Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang noted that our experiences shaped us as an individuals and as a region which strengthened our unity and cooperation to achieve our dreams, especially Cordillera autonomy. “Isu dagitoy iti nangpairut iti panagkaykaysa ken panagsisinaranay tapno magun-od tayo dagiti natatakneng nga arapaap tayo, nangnangruna iti gandat tayo iti awtonomiya”, he said.
While new to the Cordillera and its pursuit of regional autonomy, Congressman Eric Yap showed solidarity in filing for a bill proclaiming July 15 as a regular holiday in the Cordillera.
HB 5687 was filed on December 2, 2019 with a counterpart Senate Bill 1232 filed later on December 11.
By Marlo Lubguban
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