CAR lawmakers said that a more extensive information, education and communication (IEC) campaign on regional autonomy must be done prior to the conduct of a summit on the matter.

In a Leaders’ Forum last September 25, 2013 in Quezon City which was attended by all Cordillera lawmakers and 18 regional directors, Regional Development Council Vice Chairperson and National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Milagros Rimando presented the RDC proposal to hold a regional summit on Cordillera autonomy.

It was agreed during the forum that a massive IEC will be conducted first to ensure that the Cordillerans areproperly consulted. Subsequently, a regional summit will be undertaken early next year to decide whether to adopt the House Bill 5595 as is then refile it, or to make amendments first then refile the bill. It is also expected that a resolution urging the CAR lawmakers to file the bill shall be passed in that regional summit.

Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan said that an IEC campaign targeting the grassroots is necessary to show whether a clamour for autonomy indeed exists. The CAR provincial governors should also be consulted, he added.

Cong. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang of Apayao affirmed that they should consider the sentiments of the people as regional autonomy will affect the lives of the present and the future generations of Cordillerans.

Cong. Manuel Agyao of Kalinga emphasized that there were people who voted against regional autonomy in the previous plebiscites not because they were against it but because they failed to understand the concept.

Abra Representative Ma. Jocelyn Bernos stressed that grassroots IEC is necessary especially in Abra where many were not supportive of regional autonomy.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat argued that it is crucial to do an extensive IEC at the barangay level and to get the support of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. An IEC at the barangay level, together with a pulse survey showing that the masses want autonomy can help convince the president, he added.

Cong. Maximo Dalog of Mt. Province reminded that the first two organic acts have been passed in Congress because these had the support of the previous presidents.

Baguio Cong. Nicasio Aliping thenceforth said that they should be unanimous in filing the bill.