BAGUIO CITY – Valenzuela 1st district Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian disclosed he already informed lawmakers from the Cordillera of his all-out support to the renewed pursuit for Cordillera autonomy because self-governance has been viewed as the ultimate vehicle for growth and development in a uniquely situated region like the Cordillera.
Gatchalian, who was in the city Wednesday to dialogue with various sectors on key legislations, disclosed the upcoming conduct of provincial consultations by the House committee on local government on House Bill (HB) 4649 or the bill that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera is a giant step towards the eventual passage of the autonomy law that will be beneficial to the people of the Cordillera.
“We have been aware of the injustices of the national government to the Cordillera through the past several decades, thus, it is high time that the long overdue autonomy should be achieved for the benefit of faster pace of development, especially for the remote villages of the region,” Gatchalian stressed.
HB 4649 that seeks to establish an autonomous in the Cordillera was filed by 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 Baguilat, Jr., Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Sr. on June 11, 2014 but it took the House committee on local government at least one year to decide on whether or not to conduct the required public hearings to ascertain the pulse of the Cordillerans on the region’s third attempt for self-governance.
Gatchalian asserted allowing Cordillerans to decide on various issues having a direct effect to the pace of development and the preservation and protection of the region’s rich culture and heritage is part of empowering indigenous peoples to showcase their leadership in the upliftment of the cordillera as one of the country’s economic driver because of its rich natural resources.
According to him, the Cordillera was able to contribute to the growth of Manila-based cities because multinational companies which have been exploiting, developing and utilizing the region’s rich resources such as hydro and minerals have been paying their taxes to their central offices based in various parts of Metro Manila instead of the local governments hosting their operations that could have contributed in improving the state of provinces, cities and municipalities in the different parts of the region.
He called on Cordillera leaders to unite in achieving the long overdue autonomy which was the root of the armed struggle of their ancestors in order to give justice to those that sacrificed their lives in the movement that led to the signing of the historic Mount Data peace agreement in September 1986.
Gatchalian claimed Cordillerans must already grab the opportunity provided by the 1987 Constitution to become autonomous so as not to be overtaken by events in the national scene, saying that in case proponents of the amendments of the fundamental law of the land will succeed, there is a possibility that such constitutional provision might be affected, especially when Congress passes the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the government will succeed in putting in place the BBL. By Dexter A. See