After filing multiple bills regarding the plea of Cordillera Autonomy in the 18th Congress, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 5687 on the third and final reading, an act establishing the autonomous region of the Cordillera, during their last session on June 2, 2022.
However, based on the legislative procedure of the legislative department, the senate will not be able to pass HB 5687 into law after the adjournment of the 18th Congress.
It was remarked that after the two plebiscites failed in 1990 and 1998 due to the people’s lack of understanding and information about the benefits and challenges of autonomy, the chance of shifting the region’s classification yet again failed.
Gregorio C. Taag, an advocate of Cordillera autonomy, felt content and optimistic despite its failure to be passed into law during the 18th Congress, that at least the same House Bill can be refiled to the 19th Congress with the note of some modifications, adding, “promoting and battling for autonomy is for the upcoming generations,”
Moreover, he reiterated that with the aim of the incoming lawmakers to achieve federalism, it is better for the region to attain autonomy before federalism since it is mandated in the 1987 constitution.
On the other hand, Baguio City’s lone district representative, Mark Go, one of the bill’s principal authors, stated in a press conference that it is now the time for Cordillera to fulfill its goal of political autonomy, adding that the social and economic aspect of the region has developed.
In attaining autonomy, the region will be able to realize a self-governing state, where people are free to pursue progress and development mainly in the political, economic, social and cultural aspects while exercising the right to autonomy and sovereignty.
Once passed into law, Cordillera will remain as a constitutive part of the nation’s territory with a political system governed by a regional government which is aimed to promote the core messages of Cordillera region autonomy, enhancing Cordillera identity, form responsive policies for the region, and collective progress for all, in each sector.
Conversely, some Benguet farmers, who will benefit most from this action, agree into shifting the region into autonomy.
Ellen A. Cadnona, a farmer for over 30 years, stated that it is better to realize autonomy for the budget to be focused solely for the Cordillerans, she stated in her vernacular. She also added that if we can succeed in becoming an autonomous region, it may solve the current problems in the agricultural sector in the region.
The 1987 Constitution Article X Section 15 mandates the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas, sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structure, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty, and the territorial integrity of the country.
By Vladymir M. Mabli