Cordillera autonomy – Advocates did not pass up the chance to clamor for the justice and development the region has been pursuing for over 30 years.

BONTOC, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE – RDC-CAR Vice chair and NEDA Director Milagros Rimando, NCIP-CAR Director Roland Calde and Mountain Province official Gary Pekas emphasized that empowerment and transformation for the Cordillera can be achieved with regional autonomy during an International forum on indigenous Peoples last April held in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Director Rimando cited the Mateo Cariño doctrine which was a landmark case on the rights of indigenous peoples that influenced many international court decisions on indigenous peoples’ ancestral domain claims. The doctrine is the one of foundations of the Cordillerans’ pursuit for empowerment through self-determination until today. This self-determination pursuit has now taken the form of the Cordillera autonomy advocacy and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA).

The IPRA, Director Calde noted, has some provisions similar to the current Cordillera Organic act filed in Congress and the Senate. One of the rights secured in the IPRA is the right to self-determination, which the organic act embodies. He adds that the current Cordillera Administrative Region is merely a transitory structure designed towards an autonomous government per Executive Order 220.

“What we need, in the face of impending transformation, is to be empowered… we can actually realize this in one fell swoop – regional autonomy”, Pekas emphasized. He explains that in a globalized world where everything changes, indigenous cultures are threatened. Regional autonomy provides a way in which the indigenous cultures of the Cordillerans can be protected.

The 1st International Forum on Innovations for Indigenous Peoples’ Empowerment and Social Transformation organized by the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College with the WOW Bali initiative, a research-based sustainable development program in Indonesia. It was held in Bontoc last April 5 to 7 and attended by researchers from various academic, government and private institutions.



by Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA- SPCAR