Through the Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) Program, the Cordillera office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) continued to raise awareness of Cordillera autonomy in 2018 just as national interest for the advocacy grows. Forty-five information, education, and communication events were held in 2018 reaching over 17,000 at the regional and grassroots levels. The SPCAR program has three thrusts: Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) thrust, Alliance Building (AB) thrust, and Capability-building (CAP) thrust. The program raises regional awareness and support for autonomy through the IEC thrust while simultaneously advancing the Cordillera Organic Act at the national level through various alliance building engagements, and better capacitating the region through various capability projects.
The autonomy advocacy diversified its methods of raising awareness and gaining support for Cordillera autonomy. Beyond the traditional lecture-forum, several unique events were held such as the Sports for Autonomy Marathon Relay throughout the entire Mountain Province from March 22 to 27, the continuing autonomy concert-fora held in Sagada, Mountain Province, Bangued, Abra, and Luna, Apayao, the editorial writing on autonomy in this year’s Regional Higher Education Press Conference in November 29 and 30, and a quiz bee conducted in the Sto. Tomas National High School in Baguio on November 29.
Guided by the results of the 2017 Pulse Survey on Cordillera autonomy awareness and the 2018-2019 roadmap to Cordillera autonomy towards federalism, the SPCAR program intensified its information distribution among grassroots and youth sectors. The advocacy also gained strong support among civil society organizations and local government units.
Training for municipal and barangay-level IEC speakers were also conducted for Abra, Baguio City, Benguet, and Mountain Province local governments to help reach more stakeholders at the grassroots. NEDA-SPCAR also coordinated with various regional line agencies such as Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, Commission on Higher Education, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Budget Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Information Agency, to raise awareness of Cordillera autonomy among their stakeholders and employees in various events throughout the year.
Partners in the private sector also helped raise awareness and gain the support of Cordillera autonomy. These included the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC), the Cordillera Network of development non-government organizations and peoples’ organizations (CORDNET), the Mountain Province Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) led by the Lang-ay Festival Organization, the Sadanga Environmental and Cultural Care Association, Inc. (SECCAI), the Cordillera Bodong Association (CBA), the Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army (CPLA), the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development (CFPD), and many others.
Further, in an effort to inculcate a shared regional identity, NEDA-SPCAR and Mountain Province State Polytechnic College finalized the Historical Mapping and Marking of Cordillera Self-Determination sites with over 30 identified sites throughout the region. These historical sites relate to autonomy and the struggle for self-determination.
Even more stakeholders were reached through various broadcast, radio, print, and social media in partnership with Northern Philippine times, SunStar Baguio, Bombo Radyo Baguio, SkyCable Baguio, and PTV Cordillera.
NEDA-SPCAR continues to raise awareness and gain support for autonomy as a means of addressing the shortcomings of the two failed attempts in 1990 and 1998 due to the lack of proper information dissemination. Autonomy is the overarching theme of regional development for the Cordillera. It is viewed by Cordillera leaders as the best way to spur long-overdue regional development that is sustainable and self-determined by its people.
By Marlo T. Lubguban
Banner Photo: Full force – (Top left) Students of Balweg National High School learn the history of the Cordillera’s moment for self-determination. (Top Right) A community leader commends the Cordillera organic act for including a provision on the rights of vulnerable sectors. (Bottom Right) A senior high school student expresses his views on the pursuit for Cordillera autonomy during the concert-forum in Abra. (Bottom Left) Runners of Mountain Province finish their 6-day marathon relay in Bontoc while spreading awareness for the advocacy. By: Marlo T. Lubguban – NEDA-SPCAR