Tabuk, Kalinga: Rep. Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao called for more consultations on Regional Autonomy warning that a third rejection might mean strike-out just like strike three in baseball.                

The same sentiment was earlier expressed by Governor Nestor Fongwan of Benguet during the Third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee (TAADC) meeting at the Supreme Hotel in Baguio City last June 29, 2011 and Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin during a dinner hosted by Governor Jocel Baac of Kalinga for members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) at the Golden Berries Hotel here last June 30, 2011.   


 Congressman Baguilat of Ifugao asks RDC to do more consultations on Regional Autonomy
Behind him in this picture in Tabuk were Kalinga governor Jocel Baac, Abra governor Eustaquio Bersamin,
RDC co-chairman Virgilio Bautista and RDC vice-chairman Juan Ngalob



Fongwan and Bersamin’s messages mean the same:  The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) must handle the regional autonomy issue better this time by conducting more consultations because if a third organic act is rejected, the people might totally lose confidence on regional autonomy.                 

Members of the RDC, which is leading the campaign for Regional Autonomy and whose members include governors, regional directors, municipal mayors and private sector representatives, were gathered here for the July 1 kick-off activity of the 24th Cordillera Month celebration.               

Baguilat, who also heads the committee on cultural communities in Congress, served as guest speaker.               

Baguilat recommended the following actions for the TAADC-RDC to consider: 

1.       The region must understand the Organic Act especially the concept of self-governance and control of resources; 

2.       Conduct a survey similar to what the RDC did in late 2007 and early 2008 to pulse people’s perception on the issue;  

3.       Involve the congressmen because it will be they who will champion the Organic Act in Congress; and 

4.       Get the support of the president.               

Baguilat shared his observation that most Cordillera congressmen are either indifferent or indecisive on the issue as of this time.  He said it is foolhardy to expect that the third Organic Act will be passed by the present Congress unless it is going to be certified as urgent by the president.   

He also said that for the rest of the year, Congress will prioritize the 2012 budget and the RH Bill. 

These are the top two of several agenda, and Regional Autonomy is not even on the list,” he said. 

On President Aquino’s support, Baguilat volunteered to provide a bridge to the president who he said is not inclined to support something he does not fully understand.               

He advised CAR to internalize the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) saying that if the region could not implement this milestone law properly, it is putting in doubt its capacity for regional autonomy. 

Meanwhile, Atty. William Claver, founding chairman of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, was awarded a plaque of appreciation by the province of Kalinga for his pioneering advocacy on Regional Autonomy. 

In an interview in his residence in Barangay Dagupan here, he said that Regional Autonomy should and must always be for the protection of the ancestral domain.   

Claver expressed misgivings on this third attempt because of the presence of IPRA which gives a semblance of attention to indigenous people’s concerns, but he advised movers to go barrio to barrio to inform the people if they want it to succeed.   

The TAADC is waiting for the results of another round of consultations with the grassroots to be conducted by the provinces during the month of July before it will hold another meeting on July 29 in Baguio City.   

Dr. Virgilio Bautista, RDC co-chairman, said that when the proposed draft is finalized, a meeting with the Congressman shall be convened to discuss the filing of a bill in Congress.   

The RDC also invited the president to grace the 24th Cordillera Day celebration on July 15 at the Baguio Covention Center.  It expects that when the president comes for the occasion, he would share his sentiment on autonomy for the region.