BAGUIO CITY – Senator Francis Escudero cited the Cordillera is already ripe to achieve an autonomous status compared to that of Mindanao because of the unique culture and traditions, rich history of the people and the good attitude of the Cordillerans for lasting peace.
Escudero disclosed he was always being asked on the difference between the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the proposed autonomous region in the Cordillera that is why he always responds that the culture of Cordillerans is far more better than the culture of people in Mindanao.
“We challenge the Cordillera lawmakers to fastrack the approval of the autonomy bill in the House and we are willing to be one of the champions of cordillera autonomy in the Senate,” Senator Escudero stressed.
He pointed out he has always supported the clamor of self-governance by the Cordillerans over the past several years but the ball is now in the hands of Cordillera lawmakers on how to fastrack the approval of the autonomy bill in the House so that the Senate will also do its part in passing the counterpart bill for ratification by the Cordillerans in a plebiscite to be scheduled for the purpose.
Escudero explained Mindanao was already able to take advantage of the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of the ARMM and now it has another chance to get a bigger advantage through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), thus, Cordillerans who were not able to get nothing out of the mandate of the Constitution should now wake up and grabe the rare opportunity of being given a chance to achieve autonomous status and have it work to the advantage of the people, especially for faster growth and development among others.
On June 11, 2014, Abra Rep. Maria Jocelyn Valera-Bernos, Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Baguio City Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping, Jr., Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, Ifugao Rep. Teodro Baguilat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr. filed House Bill 4640 which seeks to establish a Cordillera Autonomous Region but the same has been pending in the House committee on local governments chaired by South Cotabato 1st district Rep. Pedro Acharon.
The senator asserted the Cordillera is in a better position to grabe the opportunity of being autonomous because of the continuous reign of peace and the people are now clamouring for it unlike in the BBL where it is only intended for the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and not for the whole Mindanao region.
He cited the realization of Cordillera autonomy under the term of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III would be history in the making because the some was able to achieve what her mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino, envisioned the Cordillera to be when she signed the famous Mount Data peace agreement with the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) led by former rebel priest Conrado Balweg.
Autonomy advocates disclosed achieving an autonomous status for the Cordillera will greatly help in moving out the people from the shackles of poverty because policies beneficial to the welfare of the greater majority of the populace will be crafted by the autonomous regional governments most of the powers of the central government will be downloaded to the regional government.