BAGUIO CITY – The 17th district of Baguio City included autonomy as one of their primary concerns during their 1st quarter General Assembly held in South Sanitary Camp, Baguio City on March 26, 2019 where Vladimir Cayabas, as member of the Regional Development Council and Autonomy IEC speakers’ bureau served as resource speaker. The 17th district of Baguio City is composed of barangays New Lucban, Trancoville, Alfonso Tabora, Magsaysay Private Road, North Sanitary Camp, and South Sanitary Camp.

Cayabas emphasized the importance of pursuing autonomy first towards federalism. He shared that Cordillera autonomy and federalism have no conflict with each other since both movements aim to decentralize power and localize decision-making. However, unlike Cordillera autonomy, a national shift to a federal form of government is not simple as it requires a change of the current Philippine Constitution.  Thus, it is important, that Cordillera autonomy be achieved first since it is already provided in the 1987 Constitution. Cayabas shared that, currently, only Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera have been given the chance to operate as regional governments autonomous from the national government.

According to Cayabas, Executive Order 220 was issued to prepare the Cordillera Administrative Region for regional autonomy. Putting in place, regional autonomy in the Cordillera will help ensure that the regional is represented in a federal form of government.A mock plebiscite was conducted with the question: “If a plebiscite were to be conducted tomorrow, how will you vote?”. Majority of the participants (73%) voted yes, 5% voted no, while 22% were still undecided. Both of those who voted no and undecided cited the need for further understanding.

The RDC through NEDA-CAR continues to partner with local government units like barangays to be able to reach more Cordillerans and educate them on autonomy. Cordillerans at the grassroots level are the RDC’s top priority for their Information, Education, and Communication thrust. This is to correct the shortcomings of the 1990 and 1998 plebiscites where there was a lack of time to discuss regional autonomy and the provisions of the two organic acts.

Also in attendance were RDC Chair and Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Former Vice-mayor Betty Tabanda, former councilor Tony Tabora, City council hopefuls Bummy Bumanglag and Cricket Villareal, and Sangguniang Kabataan-Baguio President Levy Orcales..