BAGUIO CITY – The renewed pursuit for Cordillera which is being spearheaded by the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) continues to get the needed support from allies of the Aquino administration that should serve as a signal for President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to re-think his position and make a last ditch effort to certify the pending autonomy bill in the House of Representatives as an urgent administration measure.
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera must already be realized through the cooperation of Cordillerans by sending a clear message to Malacañang officials that autonomy will be the key driver of the region’s desired economic growth.
“Autonomy for the Cordillera has been a long overdue commitment that must already be put in place in order to achieve the mandate of the Constitution, We encourage Cordillerans to continue pushing for it and gaining the attention of the President who will certify the autonomy bill as an urgent administration measure before his term will end next year,”Drilon stressed.
It can be recalled the seven Cordillera congressmen, 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. Teodoro Baguiltat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and embattled Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr., filed House Bill (HB) 4649 seeking for the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera but the same was never scheduled for deliberations by the House committee on local government chaired by South Cotabato 1st district Rep. Pedro Acharon.
Drilon said the Senate will do its part in passing the bill creating an autonomous region for the Cordillera once it will be submitted to the plenary for future debates but cordillera leaders must continue lobbying for the House to fastrack its action on the pending bill simultaneous with lobbying to the Office of the President for the Chief Executive to certify the autonomy bill as an urgent administration measure.
Former rehabilitation czar Panfilo M. Lacson also expressed his support for the snowballing clamor for the establishment of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) to allow the region to be able to accelerate its desired growth without substantial control from the central government.
“The Cordillera deserves to be granted the mandate of realizing autonomous status because of the region’s glaring difference to that of the Mindanao experience,” Lacson stressed.
He cited Cordillerans were able to prove their sincerity in sustaining their commitment to the government by being able to maintain over 28 years of peace after the signing of the historic Mount Data peace agreement between former rebel priest Conrado Balweg of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) and former President Corazon C. Aquino that resulted to lasting peace in the region, thus, the government must also comply with its commitment to grant the desire for an autonomous region acceptable to the people.
Lacson said the pending autonomy bill in the House deserves immediate action by lawmakers so as not to keep the Cordillerans waiting for a long overdue promise that seems to remain as a promise that cannot be fulfilled by the government that entered into such historic agreement for peace and development. By Dexter A. See