The Cordillera Commission on Human Rights (CHR-CAR), in partnership with the Regional Development Council – Cordillera,  conducted 15 forums to orient students, teachers and non-teaching staff on the topic of human rights and Cordillera Regional Autonomy.

During the closing seminar held on April 13, 2015 at the Gladiola Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, CHR Special Investigator Lyman Salvador, a member of the Speakers Bureau for Autonomy, encouraged the participants to exercise their right to vote especially in the third ratification of the organic act to establish the Cordillera Autonomous Region.  Collective rights, cultural rights, people’s rights to self-determination, and other governing basic human rights relevant to the Cordillera’s clamor for autonomy were also tackled.

The orientation seminars which received financial support from the Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region(SPCAR) Program of the RDC-CAR started in April 2014 and ended in April 2015.  Engaging a total of 1,979 participants across the 15 SUCs in CAR, the seminars enlightened the participants of their rights as the region’s development stakeholders.

Raised during the fora were issues and concerns such as the need to strengthen indigenous people’s rights and the resolution of ancestral land and domain conflicts.

It is worthy to note that the proposed Third Organic Act or House Bill 4649 provides for the recognition of the IPs’ indigenous justice systems and customary laws.

The CHR, through the seminars, espoused regional autonomy while enlightening participants with the basic human rights than can never be curtailed by any form of government.

Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR