BAGUIO CITY – Cordillera leaders, autonomy advocates and concerned sectors in the region must already initiate an aggressive signature campaign in the grassroots level in support of the quest for autonomy to send a strong message to President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos, Jr. for him to certify the proposed autonomy bill as an urgent priority legislative agenda for the realization of the establishment of an autonomous region during the present administration.
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang, in his solidarity message during the main program in celebration of the 35th founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) held at the Baguio Convention Center (BCC) Friday, underscored that there is no stopping Cordillerans from constantly reminding the central government of the need to establish the autonomous region in recognition of the dreams and aspirations of those who waged the armed struggle and the present generations who are fighting for self-determination.
He added that drivers of the quest for autonomy and the provincial, municipal, city and barangay officials as well as the concerned sectors should already work out the signing of the appropriate petition calling on the President to certify the proposed autonomy that they will soon file in the House of Representatives as a priority legislative agenda of the present administration so that its passage would be fast tracked.
In the 18th Congress, all Cordillera congressmen authored and filed House Bills 5687 and 7778 seeking for the establishment of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) where the said bills were consolidated in HB 10729 which was approved on third reading on May 30, 2022 and subsequently transmitted to the Senate for the supposed passage of its counterpart measure on May 31, 2022.
However, the 18th Congress adjourned its third regular session on June 1, 2022 that rendered the same unacted.
Congressman Mangaoang claimed that Cordillerans should already allow the sun to shine in the region’s quest for autonomy so that the desired social development and inclusive growth in the remote villages of the region will be realized.
“We are here to declare that the future we seek will no longer be elusive because we are more than very resolved to claim autonomy during this administration, the struggles so much as to rise above divisions and competitions to work together,” Mangaoang stressed.
He argued that Cordillerans must take advantage of the fact that President Marcos, Jr. is from Northern Luzon who better understands the region’s quest for autonomy that is why the petitions from the ground supporting the same and urging him to certify the proposed autonomy bills as urgent will serve as an added boost for self-determination.
For his part, Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. said that Cordillerans must remain steadfast and resolute in attaining their collective aspirations towards the establishment of an autonomous region.
He stipulated that may the enthusiasm of Cordillerans in the pursuit of autonomy not end with the celebration of the region’s founding anniversary but people must be united and continue to support each other in generating excitement, awareness, appreciation and commitment towards the quest for self-governance.
On the other hand, Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. argued that the Cordillerans have survived the various natural and man-made challenges that beset the region for a number of decades which is a testament that the people are resilient because they find common strength in adversities.
Further, he added that our indigenous knowledge, systems and practices like ‘binnadang’ and ‘ug-ugbo’ bring out the best in them where they sacrifice personal interests over the interest of the general welfare of their communities.
According to him, the economy remains self-sustaining as the region can produce sufficient food for the people while maintaining good relationship with nature.
Gov. Lacwasan explained that if autonomy was reality, the Cordillerans should have hurdled the effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the other challenges that have be sited the region over the past several decades because autonomy allows the people to maximize the use of the available resources and the resilience of the people to address such pressing issues and concerns.
“Let us allow the sound of the unity gong and the voice of the people resonate in the halls of Congress and Malacañang for our aspirations for autonomy to be realized,” Lacwasan stressed.