Bid for Cordillera autonomy gains grounds in national level

>> Thursday, July 20, 2017

By Redjie Melvic Cawis

BAGUIO CITY -- The Regional Development Council said the bid for Cordillera regional autonomy is gaining grounds in the national level.
RDC vice chairperson, National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Milagros Rimando, said recent activities conducted by the RDC in the national level are now bearing fruit as Cordillera autonomy is now slowly becoming a national issue.
Rimando said the RDC recently met with different national government agencies in the Roundtable Discussion on Cordillera Regional Autonomy at the Bahay Kalinaw of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
She added heads of national agencies, Undersecretaries, Assistant secretaries and directors publicly stated their support to the bid for Cordillera autonomy.
Some of the officials present were Cordillerans who were or are assigned to the national or central offices.
“The roundtable discussion resulted with officials from various government line agencies committing to support the move for Cordillera Autonomy,” said Rimando.
“While the grassroots level is increasing awareness with the various information, education and communication campaigns and activities in the different parts of the region, the national level is also increasing awareness with the activities being conducted such as the national forum,” she added.
The RDC aims to gather interest in the national level on the Cordillera autonomy for it to be popularized and have a national interest that would help the RDC and the Cordillerans in their bid to have an autonomous region.  
Aside from the commitment from the heads of offices, line agencies also offered their technical assistance in refining House Bill 4649 particularly with the comments of the Department of Budget and Management with regards to the financial requirement and resources, the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and the Dept. of Agrarian Reform on environment and land issues.
National Commission on Culture and the Arts Chairman Felipe De Leon together with attached agencies such as National Museum, National Historical Commission and the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino also committed to support the Cordillera autonomy with identification and preservation of historical and heritage sites, cultural practices including translation of the House Bill and other materials in Filipino and several dialects.
The forum  featured two speakers- Prof. Ponciano Bennagen, a delegate to the 1987 Philippine Constitutional Commission,  who discussed “The Constitutional Mandate and an Autonomous Cordillera” and Institute for Autonomy and Governance Executive Director Benedicto Bacani, a lawyer who  talked  on ‘ The Bangsamoro Basic Law Experience and Cordillera Autonomy: Lessons and Prospects.”
In their talks, Bennagen and Bacani said the RDC should consolidate a strong political cause that would unite the aspiration of having an autonomous region.  They added that the clamor for autonomy in the Cordillera region should be based on a strong sense of cultural identity and not driven by the simple desire for regional development
The RDC has been focusing on the three core messages of autonomy- enhanced Cordillera identity, Responsive policies for the Cordillera and Progress for all.
Rimando said that the RDC took a huge step by conducting forums in the national level to drum up autonomy in the national level and at the same time gather support from the various stakeholders including the government agencies on the pursuit of regional autonomy and this is now being realized with the results of the second forum.
In November last year, the RDC conducted the National Conference: a National Step to an Autonomous Cordillera at the Novotel in Quezon City which was attended by RDC officials and members including Cordillera leaders with keynote speaker Sen. Francis Escudero stressing his support to the Cordillera Autonomy.

With the inputs from the recent forum, the RDC will call for several meetings with the different members, stakeholders and the Technical Working Group of the House Bill to look into the refinement of the steps being undertaken by the RDC towards the bid for regional autonomy. 


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