President Duterte asked to grace 31st Cordillera day

>> Thursday, July 5, 2018

ConCom hears Cordi on autonomy, federalism 

BAGUIO CITY-- The Regional Development Council has invited President Rodrigo Duterte to grace the 31st anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region in Ifugao on July 14.
This, as the Consultative Committee (ConCom) reviewing the Philippine Constitution held a two-day public consultation here early last week to drum up support for the conversion of Cordillera into an autonomous region towards the country's shift to a federal form of government.
City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, who chairs the RDC, told a press conference at city hall Wednesday, they are now coordinating with the Office of the President  for the details of the event.
Domogan said that the RDC’s invitation to the President is aimed at drumming up the region’s clamor for autonomy.
“We hope that the President can squeeze in his busy schedule our invitation for the 31st anniversary of the Cordillera,” he said.
CAR became a region following former President Corazon Aquino’s issuance of Executive Order (EO) 220 which gave way for the creation of CAR as an administrative region pending its becoming an autonomous region.
He said that annually for a number of years now, the Cordillera leaders led by the RDC has been boosting the clamor for autonomy by holding various information campaign activities, lectures and other events to inform the residents in the region of the continuing bid for autonomy.
The annual Gong Relay, where a giant gong, representing the region’s culture is brought to the different provinces and cities in the Cordillera to boost the campaign. The gong relay, which lasts for a week commencing at the host province and ending in the same place in time for the big day, to commemorate the date of the issuance of EO 220 in July 15.
The mayor, however, said that the invitation for President Duterte is for July 14, a day before the anniversary day, to highlight the event on the following day.
Domogan said that celebration would be graced by the gathering of all leaders of the region and its people.
There would be merry making and the offering of animals to the “Kabunyan” (gods) in thanksgiving for taking care of the region, its officials and the people, he added. 
Meanwhile, the ConCom reviewing the Philippine Constitution  heard the voice of the Cordillera people after a two-day public consultation it conducted here until Tuesday -- a unified support for the conversion of Cordillera into an autonomous region towards the country's shift to a federal form of government.
On Tuesday, the public consultation was capped by the signing of support by the participants.
On June 25-26, the ConCom sought the insights of the Cordillera people on federalism through several sessions. One was with the Philippine Military Academy, attended by over 500 officials and cadets. Another was a town hall meeting with various sectors of the Cordillera community, attended by about a hundred people. Another is a meeting with representatives of local governments, non-government organization, the Regional Development Council (RDC), regional line agencies, and private sectors, with an audience of over a thousand people.
The ConCom also held a convention of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials, students, and professionals numbering about 2,500.
ConCom Commissioner Lawyer Laurence Wacnang, who hails from Cordillera, citedCordillerans'  expression of support to federalism in a consultation with over a thousand attendees.
Wacnang, a former Kalinga provincial governor and representative, is an advocate of Cordillera autonomy.
“I was surprised with Manang Brigitte (former National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Commissioner Brigitte Pawid) to have agreed that our proposal is favorable to the Cordillerans and that to me says a lot," remarked another ConCom commissioner, Dr. Virgilio Bautista, who also hails from the Cordillera and the former chairman of the Cordillera RDC.
Bautista, however, clarified that the clamor of one group for a regional security is not possible. “This is something that we cannot afford to have because there is no limit to having private armies and we cannot afford that in order to maintain peace and order, which is also agreed to by the Bangsamoro,” he explained.
Bautista assured that the draft Constitution the ConCom commissioners are set to hand over to President Rodrigo Duterte in early July reflects the desires of both the Cordillera and the Bangsamoro. “We did not reduce any of their self-governing authorities, but they have to respect that the Philippines is a sovereign country,” he said.
Baguio City Mayor and RDC Chairman Mauricio Domogan expressed support to President Duterte’s call for a shift to federalism through autonomy.
Baguio City Councilor Michael Lawana, who heads the regional federation of barangay captains, also relayed his group’s support to autonomy towards federalism.
Andres Ngao-I, chairman of the Kalinga Bodong Council and the Regional Indigenous Peoples' Education under the Department of Education (DepEd), expressed satisfaction over the public consultation conducted by the ConCom in the Cordillera.
Arthur Abbacan of Pasil, Kalinga said of the just-concluded public consultation of ConCom: “It's successful. There should be consultations with all concerned stakeholders because this is new. We have learned from past experience, where the Congress changed a number of provisions of the autonomy bill. But now, with the strong leadership of President Duterte, maybe, this is the time for us, for our country to attain what we have been clamoring for in the region, aspiration as one IP region.”
Abra Vice Governor Ronald Balao-as said their group, the Unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army, supports autonomy towards federalism. "We have been fighting for regional autonomy in the Cordi for almost three decades," he noted.
The support was echoed by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael, a native of Mountain Province.
The Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reform under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also launched the logo “Pederalismo”, bearing the Philippine flag, an eagle, and the monument of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. 
The Dept. of the Interior and Local Government said the transition to federalism will bring stronger autonomy and improved policies in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
“Federalism, in essence, is about empowering the regions and this, I believe, would give a certain level of autonomy not just to the Cordillera Region, but to the other regions in the Philippines” said DILG Assistant Secretary for Communication and Public Affairs Jonathan E. Malaya.
The DILG, in partnership with the Presidential Management Staff regional field unit, held regional consultation on federalism here.
Malaya noted “it is best to attend the Pederalismo serye town hall meeting with basic sectors, the Consultative Committee’s (Concom) Consultations and the Federalism convention/rally when the national government brings the roadshow to Baguio today (June 26).
“The future of the Cordillera region will be tackled during DILG’s dialogue with multi-sectoral groups. So let us all take part in the roadshow to know more about the form of autonomy that constitutional reform will give to Cordillera,” said Malaya.
Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of autonomous regions for minority groups in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao.
The federalism event here was graced by members of the Consultative Commission (ConCom) that President Rodrigo Duterte formed to review the 1987 Philippine Constitution. -- PNA


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