OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza (seated 5th from left) in a lighter mood after the meeting with CAR and other OPAPP officials

OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza (seated 5th from left) in a lighter mood after the meeting with CAR and other OPAPP officials

The officials of the Cordillera Region gained another autonomy champion in the person of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza in a meeting convened by the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) in Manila last November 28, 2016.

The small-group meeting aimed to seek the support of the Secretary for the region’s aspiration for autonomous governance. This was attended by OPAPP officials and some CAR congressmen, governors, mayors and officers of line agencies.

In his opening statement, the Secretary readily said that the proposed Cordillera organic act could be simultaneously filed together with the Bangsamoro which is planned to be filed in July, next year.

RDC Vice-chair and NEDA Dir. Milagros Rimando said that a new draft House Bill is currently being finalized by the RDC Technical Working Group which incorporated suggestions from CAR congressmen, inputs from various consultations, and analysis from the review of the 1988 Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission proposed charter, Bangsamoro Basic Law, among others.

The CAR officials also presented the resolutions of the RDC-CAR and the region’s six Sanggunian Panlalawigans expressing support to the national government’s move toward federalism and seeking support to Cordillera autonomy.

While critical issues were surfaced, there was an affirmation to continuously engage in the autonomy advocacy alongside plans for a federal government set-up and the Bangsamoro autonomy.

To this, the Secretary advised that CAR should go for autonomy and end up with Federalism. He advised that all officials should come up with a collective decision, “I will personally champion it”, he added.

CAR officials seized the opportunity to present other regional concerns such as the PAMANA program and the BIBAK lot issue.

Another meeting of CAR officials is set soon to identify the region’s options, strategies and actions in the autonomy advocacy.