BAGUIO CITY – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza revealed the required certification from President Rodrigo R. Duterte that House Bill (HB) 5343 or the proposed bill that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera as an urgent administration measure will be released to Congress anytime.
Dureza, who is an adopted son of the Cordillera and was given the name ‘mensapit’ or peacemaker and savior, said he already made the necessary representations with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for the transmittal to Congress of the certification from the President that HB 5343 is an urgent administration measure, thus, it will just be a matter of time for the matter to be given due course by the concerned Palace office.
“Our Cordillera leaders directly heard from the President during their meeting in Malacanang that he will certify the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill as urgent side by side with the enhanced Bangsamoro autonomous region bill. We hope that we will be able to take hold of the necessary certification the soonest,” Dureza stressed.
The Palace official called on Cordillerans not to be disappointed on the failure of the President to mention in his State of the National Address (SONA) that the proposed autonomy bill is an urgent administration measure because there is no need for him to mention everything in the SONA and what is important is that the required certification will be released the soonest.
Dureza appealed to the various sectors in the region to sustain the gains of the on-going information and education campaign on autonomy so that there will be a significant number of Cordillerans who will be informed and educated on the benefits of establishing an autonomous region while awaiting for the federal form of government to be put in place in the future.
According to him, the administration is calculating its move to shift to federal system but it is giving priority to the putting in place of the autonomous regions in the Cordillera in Muslim Mindanao so that the said regions will not be left out in terms of development once the said regions will be included in a federal state that is composed of much larger and populated provinces.
He pointed out the government is just an instrument for the enactment of the autonomy law but the bigger responsibility lies in the people of the Cordillera whether or not to ratify the approved law during the plebiscite that will be scheduled for the purpose, thus, the need for concerned sectors to sustain the aggressiveness in informing and educating the people on what will be the benefits of an autonomous region that will be put in place.
He claimed he will be frequenting the region to continue to rally the people to support the third crack of the region in achieving the elusive autonomy because autonomy has been proven to be the catalyst of development like in other developed countries considering that the regional government will have greater control of its natural resources with lesser restraint from outside forces plus the fact that it will help move people out from the shackles of poverty through enhanced economic and infrastructure development in the countryside.
Dureza asserted Cordillerans should not doubt the sincerity of the President because he made a clear statement relative to his all-out support to the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy, thus, the release of the needed certification of the autonomy bill the soonest.
Kalinga Rep. and Mountain Province caretaker Allen Jesse Mangaoang agreed with Dureza’s contention that the failure of the President to mention the region’s renewed quest for autonomy in his SONA should not be a cause of alarm because he saw the sincerity of the President when he committed to certify the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill as urgent during the meeting of cordillera leaders in Malacañang last week.
Mangaoang pointed out what is important now is for concerned sectors to be unified in the effort to sustain the aggressive information and education campaign on autonomy so that the people will be able to understand the real purpose why leaders are striving for the realization of self-governance amidst the administration’s planned shift to federal form of government.
He added it will still be best for the region to achieve autonomy before the putting in place of federalism because it will allow the Cordillera to exist as an autonomous region within a federal state wherein its inherent powers will be recognized by the federal constitution thereby allowing Cordillerans to be able to govern themselves through the autonomous regional government.
The Kalinga lawmaker claimed the realization of autonomy is giving justice to the efforts of those who have struggled in the past to gain the recognition of the government for the clamor of the region to become autonomous and that it will be for the benefit of the present and future generations of Cordillerans who will be the ones to reap the fruits of self-governance through the course of time.