Cordillera autonomy bill set for filing in Congress

>> Tuesday, January 3, 2017

RDC-CAR sets info drive 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A proposed bill that will establish an Autonomous Region in the Cordillera is being reviewed by a technical working group of the Regional Development Council after the body endorsed the draft bill.
Once the kinks are ironed out, the draft bill will be given to Cordillera congressmen for further review.
After this, the region's congressmen will file the bill in Congress early next year.
This, after the RDC-Cordillera unanimously approved crafting of the proposed bill and agreed on most  of its contents.
The RDC is reportedly set to embark on an information dissemination drive on the autonomy bill. 
The proposed bill, mostly culled from House Bill 4649 filed by Cordillera congressmen in the previous Congress, contains 19 articles and 184 sections that embody sentiments of the people of the Cordillera represented in previous consultations organized by the RDC-CAR over the past several months.
The RDC-CAR en banc recently approved the draft autonomy bill in the presence of Benguet Gov. Crecencio Pacalso, Ifugao Gov. Pedro Mayam-o and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan.
However, Domogan reminded the technical working group that prepared the draft bill to review Article 2, Section 6 pertaining to the Cordillera identity because it is dangerous and it might be taken advantage of by non-Cordillerans to claim reverse discrimination.
He warned what is being defined in the questioned provision is the definition of indigenous peoples and not who are Cordillerans.
Under the new proposed autonomy bill, a Cordilleran is a person whose father or mother is a member of an indigenous cultural community or is an indigenous person of the region; their children who shall have completed two years of residence in the region at the time of the adoption of the Organic Act and if of age, are registered voters of the region and if capable, are taxpayers; those who in their minor years, are adopted by Cordillerans under customary laws or civil law and those who are spouses and descendants of Cordillerans.
Domogan and Mayam-o said the provision defines indigenous peoples and not actually a Cordilleran, thus, the need to revise the provision to prevent it from being used against the approval of the autonomy bill when submitted to the people for ratification.
Domogan proposed to the members of the TWG to specify under Article IV or Article IX the powers of the national government that should be devolved to the regional government, particularly the issuance of water rights, exploration and mining permits, hydro development contracts among others to make sure that there will be no untoward intrusion into the ancestral domain of indigenous peoples.

The RDC-CAR conditionally approved the draft autonomy bill subject to corrections before it will be transmitted to Cordillera congressmen for filing in the House of Representatives by early next year depending on availability of authors of the proposed autonomy bill.


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