BAGUIO CITY- Regional Development Council Chair and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan presented autonomy and self-determination as the best route towards achieving the sustainable development goals in the Cordillera region during the Regional Symposium on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) on February 27, 2019. The symposium focused on localizing the UN SDGs in the Cordillera region through self-determined development.

A NEDA-CAR report shows that the provisions of the Cordillera Organic Act directly address and help fast-track the achievement of the UN SDGs in the region. This was presented by RDC Chair Domogan who explained that “sustainable development in the Cordillera is the underlying reason why we clamor for enhanced Cordillera identity and responsive policies for the Cordillerans.”

In her presentation, NEDA Assistant Secretary for Regional Development Mercedita Sombilla presented on the national plan to achieve the UN SDGs. The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, which is drafted by NEDA, guides the country in achieving the SDGs. “The 17 UN SDGs are integrated in the PDP which details the plans and strategies to achieve development in the country.”, Sombilla shared. The NEDA regional offices and DILG help in further localizing these goals into the regional, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay level to which LGUs align their priority projects and programs.

The PDP was designed so that “no Filipino is left behind”. It is the basis for the regional, provincial, municipal, and barangay development plans which encourage localization and ownership of these goals. These plans are monitored by NEDA, PSA, and DILG. The region’s development plan, which views autonomy as the central theme, is aligned with the national government objectives for sustainable and inclusive development according to Sombilla. She said this would allow the Cordillerans better and more sustainable control over resources. She added that indigenous peoples are one of the most vulnerable to the issues that the SDGs are trying to address such as climate change, social and economic inequalities, and, overconsumption and production.

Asec. Daytec-Yañgot further related the goals to the context of the Cordillera people. Predominantly, Cordillerans are members of various indigenous peoples who have a history of resisting colonial rule which preserved various cultural practices. This historical differentiation led to the Cordillera people to be previously excluded in development initiatives of the country. She added, however, that the Philippines has gradually supported the empowerment of indigenous peoples and that Cordillera autonomy in the 1987 Constitution is the recognition of the Filipinos that the Cordillera people have a right to self-determination. Daytec-Yañgot asserted that through Cordillera autonomy, Cordillerans will empowered and participate in inclusive developmentc. She clarified however that, “we should not exclude people from other ethno-linguistic groups”.

NEDA-CAR organized the event to further provide stakeholders a clearer picture of the development agenda of the Philippine government and how these relate to the 17 UN SDGs. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals set to be achieved by 2030 are: (1) No poverty, (2) Zero hunger, (3) Good health and well-being for people, (4) Quality education, (5) Gender equality, (6) Clean water and sanitation, (7) Affordable and clean energy, (8) Decent work and economic growth, (9) Resilient and sustainable industry, innovation, and infrastructure, (10) Reducing inequalities, (11) Sustainable cities and communities, (12) Responsible consumption and production, (13) Climate action, (14) Conservation of life below water, (15) Conservation of life on land, (16) Peace, justice and strong institutions, and (17) Partnerships for the goals.