QUEZON CITY – The renewed quest for autonomy of the Cordillera got an overwhelming support from Mindanao lawmakers who aware members of the House committee on local government during the public hearing called for by the body in relation to the initial deliberations of House Bill (HB) 5343 or the bill that seeks to establish an Autonomous region of the Cordillera (ARC) that was held Tuesday at the Nograles hall of the House of Representatives.
The House committee on local government hearing was spearheaded by North Cotabato 1t district Rep. Jesus Sacdalan, who is the chairman of the House body, but presided over by sub-committee chair Zamboanga Sibugay 1st district Rep. Wilter Palmaa II.
Lanao del Norte 1st district Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo underscored that in the spirit of brotherhood and for the benefit of the minorities and the marginalized sector, there is a need for Congress to act on the pending autonomy bill of the Cordillera after the enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
For his part, Bukidnon 3rd district Rep. Manuel Zubiri underscored that grant of autonomy to the Cordillera has long been overdue considering the over three decades of the people having clamored for self-governance.
He emphasized pertinent provisions of the pending autonomy bill must be refined to conform with what the people want before the measure will be calendared for committee approval before being subjected to plenary debates.
He urged the Technical Working Group (TWG) crated by the House committee composed of all Cordillera congressmen who are also authors of the autonomy bill to fastrack the refinement of it so that it could be acted upon not only by the committee and the plenary by September.
Zubiri claimed that Cordillerans must already input to the proposed autonomy bill important provisions that they deem important in charting the region’s socio-economic growth instrumental in improving the lives of the indigenous peoples (IPs) which are predominantly located in the different parts of the region.
Palma explained that the creation of the TWG to finalize the House version of the autonomy bill is similar to what had been done when the BOL was being deliberated by the House committee but is going right for HB 5343 is that there is only one bill that was filed related to Cordillera autonomy bill unlike in the BOL where there were a number of versions which they needed to iron out not only in the committee level and the plenary but also in the bicameral conference committee.
Zamboanga del Sur 2nd district Rep. Aurora Cerilles also conveyed her all-out support to the immediate passage of HB 5343 once all the needed minor amendments in some of its who will be working overtime during the period of recess so that its final version will be with the committee the soonest for proper action
The commitment of the Mindanao solons supporting the Cordillera’s renewed quest for one to reciprocate the support shown by Cordillera lawmakers during the deliberations of the BOL considering the asymmetric relationship of the two regions.
HB 5343 was authored by Abra Rep. Joseph Sto. Nino Bernos, Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, Benguet Rep. Ronald M Cosalan, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. and Mountain Province caretaker congressman Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang.
In behalf of the authors of HB 5343, Cosalan red before the committee members the explanatory note of the measure which stipulated that autonomy was no longer a long overdue dream of the Cordillerans but it is now a vigorous desire for the realization of the constitutional mandate and for the region to be able to advance its socio-economic development beneficial in uplifting the living condition of the people.
According to Rep. Baguilat, the gins of the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy should be preserved by making sure that the works of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in advocating for autonomy towards federalism should not be rendered futile, thus, concerned stakeholders must work together to make sure that the Organic law that will be enacted will be ratified by the people during a plebiscite that will be scheduled for the purpose.
Ref. Go offered to his colleagues from the Codillera that the TWG meeting will be held in Baguio city on august 23, 218 so that all the necessary inputs to improve the provisions of the proposed autonomy bill will be incorporated in the final draft that will be presented to the House committee on local government for eventual approval and endorsement to the plenary for approval in the House.
Cordillera leaders led by RDC-CAR and RPOC-CAR chairman and Baguio City mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr., Apayao Gov. Elias C. Bulut, Jr., Kalinga Vice Gov. James Edduba, Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera, regional line agency directors, private sector and civil society representatives attended the House committee hearing to show their all-out support for the immediate passage of the bill in Congress.
Rep. Mangaoang emphasized that autonomy is still the best option for the region to embrace because of the enabling environment being presented by the current administration so that the autonomous regional government will be the one to chart its development thrust instrumental in spurring economic growth in the countryside. By HENT