Cordi execs to 'make noise,' use BOL to push autonomy

>> Tuesday, August 7, 2018

BAGUIO CITY-- Cordillera leaders have decided to "make a noise" and use the current popularity of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in pushing for their region's own autonomy bid.
Regional Development Council (RDC) Secretary and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Regional Director Jedida Aquino said Cordillera officials have lined up various activities for the months of August and September to get the attention of Malacañang, the two chambers of Congress, and even the national line agencies and garner their support for Cordillera's long-sought self-determination or self-governance.
Aquino said they have to "catch up" with the BOL and even anchor Cordillera autonomy bid on this.
One move the upland leaders are planning to do is to request President Rodrigo Duterte to declare the Cordillera autonomy bills pending in both the Senate and the House of Representatives as priority and "urgent" bills.
These are House Bill 5343 and Senate Bill 1678, which both seek the establishment of an autonomous region of the Cordilleras.
“The next two months will be very important because October will already be the filing of candidacy for the next election,” Aquino said Thursday.
She said “noisy” and “drumming up” activities have been lined up as part of the upstream effort to boost the authorities' appreciation.
This came after Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Undersecretary Ryan Estevez urged the region's leaders on Monday (July 30) to take advantage of the popularity of the BOL in pushing for the passage of the Cordillera organic act, which would transform it into an autonomous region.
“The timing of the advocacy is very critical," Esteves said during a workshop with the Cordillera RDC committee called Social Preparation of Cordillera Administrative Region (SPCAR).
"This is the right time for us to push for this bill for Cordillera kasi pag lumampas na itong BOL na ito, I don’t think magiging interesting pa for the entire country (because if the BOL popularity has died down, I don’t think [Cordillera autonomy] would still be interesting for the entire country). It’s very very important for you because we might be sidelined, so this is the right time for us to do this.”
The Bangsamoro and the Cordillera’s clamor for autonomous region status are both anchored on Section 15 of Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution, which states: “There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic, and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty, as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”
Esteves briefed the SPCAR about the factors in lobbying for an advocacy.
He said knowing and getting champions in both chambers of Congress to push for the bill matter.
“Dapat may influence (they should have influence) and also the leaders. Do not just go lobbying, but also design activities that will influence the public officials, legislators, supporters.”
“Kailangan natin mag-ingay para mapansin tayo (We need to make a noise so they will notice us),” he told members of SPCAR, which is multisectoral, including local government units, non-government organizations, regional government line agencies, and other stakeholders.
On various occasions, Baguio Mayor and RDC chairman Mauricio Domogan had stressed that the signing of the BOL is beneficial to the Cordillera, as both regions' clamor for self-determination is based on the same Constitutional provision.
The creation of the Cordillera as a region came about following an indigenous peace agreement, “the Mount Data Sipat agreement” between the government under the late President Corazon Aquino and rebel priest Conrado Balweg. The agreement led to the laying down of arms of the Cordillera’s armed groups. -- PNA


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