Cordillera autonomy gained greater support as representatives of different national and regional offices joined the consultation meeting of the Committee on Local Government Technical Working Group (TWG) in discussing provisions of the proposed autonomy bill in a virtual meeting of the TWG, chaired by Cong. Mark Go.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-CAR) Regional Director Myrna Pablo stressed the agency’s support for the region’s autonomy. Pablo stated with Cordillera autonomy realized, DTI’s development programs and projects can further enhance micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) resulting in more employment opportunities, reduced poverty and a pumped-up economy for the region. “Both the regional and head offices of DTI will fully support the objectives of the Cordillera autonomy bill,” Pablo added.”
For the agricultural sector, Department of Agriculture OIC-Regional Director Cameron P. Odsey said that regional autonomy is needed in developing highland agriculture. He explained that as of now, the DA programs are based on national standards which were basically developed for the lowlands. Autonomy will allow the region to come up with its own agricultural programs tailored to the region’s needs. “We are fully supportive of the proposed bill and we are ready to help fine tune whatever provision needs to be improved,” Odsey added.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-CAR) OIC-Regional Director Araceli San Jose expressed her office’s full support for regional autonomy. San Jose said, “The regional government will be better equipped with the passage of the autonomy bill as our economic sector will be heightened to its full potential.” She added that Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) Cordillera passed Resolution No. 2 Series of 2021 on its meeting last March 17, 2021 requesting the President to support the pursuit for Cordillera autonomy and to certify the autonomy bill as an urgent and priority agenda in his administration. RTF-ELCAC sees Cordillera autonomy as a sound and appropriate solution to communist armed conflict as it addresses both the economic and political issues of the region which are the root causes of the insurgency.
Department of Education (DepED-CAR) Regional Director Estela Cariño also expressed the department’s support for regional autonomy. In the provisions of the proposed organic act, the education sector will get the highest fund allocation. Cariño said that as of now, the region’s educational sector gets the least resources because of certain parameters. Nonetheless, the creation of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera will allow the region’s education sector to come up with a curriculum that is appropriate for the region.
Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Assistant Secretary Orville Ballitoc said, “We will always commit in helping to shepherd the autonomy bill in all phases of legislation. In fact, in the Senate, we are just waiting for the committee report to come out and it was committed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri that once the report is out, they will start tackling the measure in the counter-part committee in the senate.” Once the committee report is out, the PLLO committed to help request for a certification of urgency from the Office of the President to make the legislation of the proposed organic move faster.
Further, NEDA OIC-Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen reiterated the agency’s support to Cordillera Autonomy with NEDA providing the platform for consultations and discussions in advancing the bill. NEDA-CAR, as the technical arm of the Regional Development Council, has been advocating support for Cordillera autonomy through the SPCAR project and with partners, and many LGUs, national and local stakeholders have given manifestos and resolutions of their support to Cordillera autonomy. By Bob Lyndon B. Daroya