BAGNEUD, Abra July 17 – Cordillerans must value the renewed quest for regional autonomy since it was the root cause of the armed struggle that resulted to the attainment of lasting peace in the region and the subsequent establishment of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin said here.
Bersamin, who is also the chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera, cited the people of Abra should support the region’s renewed pursuit for autonomy because former rebel priest Conrado Balweg was a true-blooded native of the province.
“Autonomy would translate to better opportunities for development, especially in the remote villages of the Cordillera We must reciprocate the sacrifices of those who were the stalwarts of the armed struggle by allowing our region to be autonomous,” Bersamin stressed.
The governor underscored that he had previous reservations on the RDC-CAR’s renewed quest for autonomy but he was able to understand that self-governance will indeed result to faster pace of development in the region, especially in Abra where development is not actually that fast paced and the trickledown effect of poverty alleviation programs is not realized in the grassroots level.
He pointed out the need for autonomy advocates to help convince the people of Abra to favor the third Organic Act once approved by Congress so that the province will be able to be part of Car and more importantly achieve the dream of Fr. Balweg and his colleagues in the armed struggle for the establishment of a permanent regional identity of the Cordillera as an autonomous region.
According to him, the region had been getting inequitable share of resources from the national government that deprived it from accelerated growth over the past several decades, thus, autonomy is viewed as the only vehicle to fastrack the development efforts of the government in the countryside because the autonomous regional government will be ones to look after the priority development projects that should be implemented and worked out.
Bersamin cited Abra was able to co-exist with other provinces in the region over the past 28 years of the CAR that is why it is just appropriate for the province to continue being with the region in the renewed pursuit for regional autonomy being spearheaded by the RDC-CAR.
The governor called on autonomy advocates to focus their attention in convincing today’s youth to internalize the real essence and numerous benefits of regional autonomy because they will be the ones to reap the fruits of the on-going struggle for self-governance, thus, they must be actively involved in the aggressive and massive information and education campaign for autonomy.
It can be recalled that the RDC-CAR embraced autonomy as its overarching agenda in 2006 which resulted to the filing of the supposed third Organic Act or House Bill (HB) 5595 in the House of Representatives and Senate Bill (SB) 3115 in the Senate.
However, both bills were not en priority attention by both chambers of Congress, thus, the same bill was refilled in the present Congress through House Bill 4649 or the bill that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera which is now pending before the House committee on local government.