Will our Cordillera representatives re-file HB 5595 or will they file an amended version after more consultations with the public?  The answer would be known during the regional consultation on regional autonomy on April 30, 2014 to be done in Baguio City.

This decision was made during a meeting between Cordillera congressmen and governors with the RDC leaders and secretariat headed by NEDA-CAR regional director and Acting RDC Chairperson Milagros Rimando during a meeting at the Ramon Mitra Building, Batasan Complex, Quezon City last March 12, 2014.

All the Cordillera congressmen were around except for Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat who sent his chief-of- staff, and  Abra representative Jocelyn Bernos.  Governors Jocel Baac of Kalinga and Denis Habawel of Ifugao were also present.

Congress will be having its recess on April 29 to May 4, 2014 so that all the Cordillera representatives are expected to be able to attend the regional summit.

All the mayors and about 10-15 representatives from the pre-summit consultations shall be invited, said Rimando.  The meeting however decided to get the most number of participants as they agreed with the observation of Mountain Province representative Maximo Dalog that people’s apathy to the issue is the enemy of the regional autonomy campaign.

Habawel said budget for the summit should not be a problem.  Tell us how many the RDC can accommodate and the provinces will help take care of the additional expenses, he said.

Benguet representative Ronald Cosalan said much will depend on what the people say during the pre-summits.  Pre-summits by the provinces, cities, and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) are being scheduled before the regional summit.

The meeting tasked the secretariat to consolidate all pre-summit results and furnish a copy to the congressmen and governors before the regional summit.  Representative Nicasio Aliping of Baguio City suggested if a Technical Working Group could sit with the congressmen before the summit.

In reaction to RDC Resolution No. 35, s. 2014 entitled Reiterating the Refiling of the Third (3rd) Cordillera Organic Act, Rep. Eleanor Begtang of Apayao said amendments should be done before filing – iba kapag ang amendment ay ginawa sa labas ng Kongreso (its different if amendments are done outside of Congress).

The RDC’s consideration for an early refiling is the duration that a proposed house bill could be deliberated in Congress.  Unless the president will certify the bill as urgent, it can possibly be overtaken by the 2016 national elections if not filed earlier.

Other agreements were as follows:

  1. For the provinces to contribute at least P 10,000.00 to the Regional Summit. All contributions should be given to NEDA-CAR on or before April 15.
  2. Invite observers from Senate. No senators can probably come but they could at least send their chiefs-of-staff.
  3. Invite also vice mayors and councilors and church-based organizations and CSOs.

 

by Michael G. Umaming, NEDA