BAGUIO CITY – Some 500 local and tribal leaders from the different parts of the Cordillera will gather in Metro Manila on November 25, 2014 to drum beat the snowballing clamor for regional autonomy in order to get the sympathy of concerned national officials, especially President Benigno Simoen C. Aquino III, to certify the pending autonomy bill as an urgent administration measure in order to achieve her mother’s unfulfilled dream of establishing an autonomous region in the Cordillera.
Abra Gov. Eustquio P. Bersamin, who is also the chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera, said the national autonomy congress is part of the initiative of Cordillera officials in order to solicit the support of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress and even those in the executive branch to fastrack the passage of the pending autonomy bill so that the region could realize the autonomous status before the President steps down from power by the middle of this year.
“Our repeated clamor for regional autonomy seems to have fallen in deaf ears that is why we will try to bring closer to our national leaders the said clamor for them to understand the real benefits of autonomy to the people of the Cordillera,” Bersamin stressed.
Aside from President Aquino, who will serve as the guest of honor and speaker during the said autonomy congress, other invited guests include senators, congressmen and other non-government organization leaders who are advocates for autonomy and who believe that self-governance will be the ultimate remedy of the national government in solving the injustice it has committed to less developed areas such as the Cordillera.
Autonomy advocates time and again reiterated that self-governance is the best way for the Cordillera to move the people out from the shackles of poverty because the regional government will have greater control of resources with lesser restraint from outside forces such as the national government.
Bersamin is optimistic that after the conduct of the national autonomy congress, national leaders will be enlightened on the true essence of autonomy and will take the initiative of working out the necessary strategies in helping lawmakers from the Cordillera to work out the passage of the pending autonomy bill into law and to be signed by the President as one of his major accomplishments and fulfilling her mother’s dream of establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
It can be recalled that it was former President Corazon C. Aquino who created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) a special temporary region in order to preare the Cordillera for the desired autonomous region as an offshoot of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) under the leadership of former Catholic rebel priest Conrado Balweg.
By Dexter A. See