BAGUIO CITY – Lessons and insights from Bangsamoro autonomy experts were shared during a two-day CAR-ARMM convergence held on February 2-3, 2017. Said partnership meeting dubbed as “Policy and Practice of Autonomy in the ARMM and Cordillera: A Dialogue” was facilitated by RDC-CAR and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) with the aim of sustaining a joint advocacy in pursuing autonomy first before federalism.
Present during the small group meeting were executives, officials, and partners of ARMM and IAG, RDC-CAR, and the NEDA-CAR Secretariat. The ARMM delegation was convened through IAG Executive Director Atty. Benedicto Bacani who is an active partner and consultant to the RDC since 2016.
ARMM partners advised to ensure that the national government must understand the distinctiveness of Cordillera’s bid for autonomy – given the present administration’s advocacy towards federalism. They stressed on highlighting the Cordillera autonomy context which is having the right to self-determination as against that of the ARMM which is the attainment of sovereignty.
The knowledge exchange centered on six aspects: (1) history, bases, and evolution of autonomy; (2) political autonomy, delineation of powers and intergovernmental relations; (3) fiscal autonomy, wealth-sharing, and taxation; (4) policing and security; (5) local governments; and (6) regional structures/bureaucracy.
Also shared during the meeting were preventive measures to address prospective challenges on fiscal autonomy, delineation of powers, accountability, and possible restrictions on the organic law. One viable solution, according to ARMM partners is the creation of an oversight committee to address gaps in fiscal devolution, among others.
During the meeting, the RDC was advised to look into RA 9054, the current ARMM organic law, in substantiating the Cordillera draft organic act – as the former is less contentious as compared to the BBL, according to ARMM partners.
A similar dialogue to be hosted by ARMM is slated in the second quarter of the year to sustain the learning platform for both regions.
by Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR