QUEZON CITY, MANILA – Two consecutive “Cordillera Leaders’ Forum” culminated in gaining a unified stand among CAR chief executives to pursue autonomy first before federalism.
Said meetings were convened by the RDC-CAR on January 24 and 31 at Batasan Complex as follow through of the meeting with OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza where he manifested to personally champion Cordillera autonomy and likewise advised the CAR leaders to determine a unified stand.
Agreements during the January 24 meeting were anchored on two options set for the region. First, is to pursue Cordillera regional autonomy, and second is shift support to the present administration’s bid for federalism with emphasis on the creation of a separate state for the Cordillera, as presented by RDC vice chair and NEDA Regional Director Milagros Rimando.
After discussions, the chief executives unanimously chose to push autonomy first through the filing of an organic act.
Present during the first forum were Cong. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. (Ifugao), Cong. Allen Jesse Mangaoang (Kalinga), Cong. Mark Go (Baguio City), and Cong. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang (Apayao). Cong. Ronald Cosalan (Benguet) and Cong. Maximo Dalog Sr. (Mt. Province) were represented by their chief of staff. Also present were Gov. Jocel Baac of Kalinga, Gov. Elias Bulut, Jr. of Apayao, and other local chief executives, and OPAPP Director Susan Marcaida and Mr. Thomas Killip.
The second meeting held January 31 led to the formal endorsement of the new draft organic act entitled “An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera”. Director Rimando, during the meeting further raised the possible endorsement of a Cordillera representative to be a member of the 25-man Constitutional Study Commission to be appointed by the president.
by Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR