La Trinidad, Benguet – The Benguet State University (BSU) has continued to be a staunch partner in raising awareness on Cordillera autonomy among the youth. Last January 29, BSU conducted a lecture on “The Case of Cordillera autonomy towards regional identity building and its implication on self-identity and socio-political participation” for around 500 students. The BSU faculty aimed to educate the students on proactive citizenry. The activity was organized by Ms. Karryl Ngina with Regional Development Council member and autonomy advocate, Vladimir Cayabas serving as resource speaker.

Cayabas reminded the students of the long history of self-determination and resistance against colonial influence.  Cayabas focused on their sense of Cordillera identity by highlighting the various cultural practices that have been throughout the centuries. He urged the students to know more about the Cordillera’s pursuit of autonomy and self-determination. He emphasized that the Philippine Constitution recognized the unique history and culture of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera and as the basis for granting autonomy to these two regions.

One student raised the concern over the administration’s efforts towards shifting to a federal form of government. Cayabas, who was also selected as a regional speaker for the Bayanihan Federalism Constitution by DILG-CAR, emphasized that the administration’s federalization efforts supplement the region’s autonomy. The RDC currently pursues ‘autonomy towards federalism’ to ensure that the region’s autonomy policies may be adopted when federalism is implemented.

The RDC and NEDA-CAR, as its technical secretariat, has coordinated with various public and private organizations to help raise awareness and gain support for Cordillera autonomy since 2007. BSU previously held a similar activity last November 2018 reaching over 400 students.