Why no Cordillera autonomy in SONA?

>> Thursday, August 3, 2017


President Rodrigo Duterte has doused cold water to proponents’ thrust to make the Cordillera an autonomous region by not mentioning it in his second State of the Nation Address.
Following this, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan told media, “We will just wait and see what will happen next.” Domogan, chairman of the Regional Development Council and chief promoter of the region's third bid for autonomy, and other political leaders met with the President in Malacañan a few days earlier before the SONA.
They got Duterte’s nod to make House Bill 5343 a priority bill to make the region autonomous. HB 5343 will be pushed as a legislative agenda by the Duterte administration alongside the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the president reportedly promised during the meeting.
The Duterte administration is pushing for federalism, but sectors are questioning how a Cordillera Autonomous Region could be had under a federal government.
National Economic Development Authority-Cordillera director Mila Rimando, also one of the main advocates of regional self-rule, said even if the president did not mention Cordillera autonomy, “we trust his statement in the meeting with Cordillera leaders that whatever priority is given the BBL, the same is given the HB 5343.” 
HB 5343 or “Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera,” co-authored by all the seven congressmen of the region, is pending in the Lower Chamber.
Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza earlier urged Cordillera governors, mayors, congressmen and heads of different sectors to unify to push autonomy.
 Dureza visited Baguio earlier this month in support to the region which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this July when the Cordillera Administration Region was created. “The region has the judgment call on how it will push it forward. We are just instruments to make it happen, to facilitate it," Dureza said.
 Dureza said in Cordillera autonomy, there should be shared powers. But he cautioned leaders not to expect powers and provisions to be approved that goes beyond the Constitutional parameter. “The Regalian Doctrine is very basic in our present set-up. The national government owns the natural resources but calibrate it under the present Constitution so that when we amend the present Constitution in federalism, you will already be ready,” he said.
 Domogan said the content of the bill does not go beyond what the Constitution provides, but is simply asking for more power and authority to manage resources within the basic law of the land.
 He added the pending bill contains what the two previous autonomy bills carry but is an improved version and adopted lessons of the Mindanao experience.
“There will be no abolition of the national line agencies because we want to co-exist with them because they already know how to work with us. But their budget will be utilized for implementation of priority programs and projects,” Domogan said.
The coming days will determine if the national government is intent in pushing realization of Cordillera autonomy. It will be another test when subjected to plebiscite among regional constituents. But as things stand now, the realization of a Cordillera autonomous region is in limbo.


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