CAR@34 – The 34th Cordillera month Celebration concludes successfully as RDC- Watershed and Environment Management Committee chaired by DENR-CAR Regional Executive Director turned over the 35th Cordillera Month Celebration hosting to the RDC- Regional Social Development Committee chaired by DSWD-CAR Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia.

The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) led by the Watershed and Environment Management Committee culminated the month-long celebration of the 34th Founding Anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region last July 30,2021 held in Baguio City.

The program included: messages from DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II and NEDA Usec. Mercedita Sombilla; delivery of the State of the Region Address (SORA) and highlights of CAR’s development performance in 2020; and the turn-over ceremony from the RDC Watershed Committee to the RDC- Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC).

In his keynote speech, DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II congratulated the region for its successful celebration of its 34th Founding Anniversary and called for the continuing support of the Local Government Units in the region in providing inclusive and extensive broadband connectivity for all which is a basic right like food and clothing.  He reported that as of the moment in CAR, 66 government agencies, public schools, public hospitals and barangay halls are already connected to the regional GovNet under the National Broadband Program (NBP) of the DICT. Secretary Honasan aims to fast track the roll out of GovNet and other DICT programs in the Cordillera region.  

NEDA Undersecretary Sombilla cited the critical role of the Cordillera in the country’s recovery efforts in ensuring food security for the whole nation, CAR being the primary producer of high value crops and in taking the lead in the development of the country’s emerging creative industries and eco-cultural tourism. “We shall continue to provide policy and budgetary support to the RDC- Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) program and NEDA will continue to actively support the passage of an autonomy bill as a priority legislative agenda,” she added.

The State of the Region Address presented by RDC-CAR Vice-Chairperson and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Susan A. Sumbeling highlighted the resiliency of the Cordillera Region and its people while battling the unprecedented effects of the pandemic through the application of indigenous values and practices such as binnadang (bayanihan) and indigenous lockdowns. This was expounded by the highlights of the 2020 regional development performance presented by NEDA-CAR Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen. Over-all, the regional economy contracted by 9.9 percent with all sectors adversely affected by the pandemic. Ways forward were also presented with the call for everyone to untiringly work together to recover from COVID-19 towards a better normal.

Chairpersons of the different sectoral committees of the RDC served as panelists during the open forum. Present were DENR-CAR Regional Director Ralph Pablo, DTI-CAR OIC Regional Director Juliet Lucas, DPWH-CAR Regional Director Khadaffy Tanggol, DICT-CAR Regional Director Nestor Bonggato, DSWD-CAR Regional Director Arnel Garcia, DOT-CAR OIC Jovita Ganongan, DA-CAR Assistant Regional Director Atty. Jennilyn Dawayan, and private sector representatives Ryan Mangusan of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples Concerns and Ferdinand Gonzales of the Development Administration Committee. The panelists emphasized key recovery strategies for their respective sectors.

DENR-CAR Regional Executive Director Ralph Pablo as Chairperson of the RDC Watershed Committee and host to this year’s Cordillera Month celebration reported the different activities undertaken successfully by various national and regional partners. He then turned over the hosting for the 35th Cordillera Month Celebration to RSDC Chairperson DSWD-CAR Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia and Co-Chairperson Private Sector Representative Arnel Cabanisas with a “kattukong” (bamboo hat) symbolizing leadership and responsibility and a bamboo plant symbolizing resiliency. DSWD-CAR Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia accepted the responsibility and the turn-over ceremony was sealed with the ceremonial beating of the Cordillera unity gong.

By Bob Lyndon B. Daroya