By Benny Balweg/SunStar Baguio

It was a frank and candid meeting, not at all a waste of time for it is always better to talk, even about nothings, than never to talk at all. But then parley turned to the same old songs of mere mutual encouragement where one side thought there was disagreement but in reality there was substantially none. The only point of difference was on the method of carrying out the autonomy information campaign. The mayor, brandishing his experience as a well-oiled politician, spiritedly explained his unyielding preference for a practical shortcut formula to get the nod of Congress to pass a third Organic Act while the CARA leader nonchalantly presented the inductive method that could “take longer period but assures the better chance of approval by the people in a plebiscite.”

What was not much taken into account in the exchange of ideas was that the supposed implementation of the constitutional mandate for an autonomous region in the northern Luzon hinterlands stemmed from a bilateral negotiation whose fruit was EO 220 that created the CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region). One cannot just ignore, much less amend, portions of that EO (winch was not an ordinary EO because it had the force of law) unilaterally. So where now are the statutory Cordillera Bodies and their respective mandated roles in the work for autonomy if these are not reactivated first and be later on the official presenter of what is to be forwarded to the Batasan or Congress to be passed finally into law? Are we not a rule of law? You may be very diligent but you are doing something not your legal function, and we know opponents in the Batasan are not stupid, what will happen? A Cordilleran bodong (peace-pact) holder or guarantor, who is well versed in the sacredness and workings of undying bodong pagta, intimated that even President P-Noy, surrogate bodong holder to his mother Cory Aquino on the side of the national government, may have hard time to remedy the impending flop.

It is thought then that the remedy is for the RDC-CAR to rethink its position of having re-invented itself to assume the duties of the Cordillera Bodies, particularly the policy-maker CRA (Cordillera Regional Assembly), and follow the provisions of EO 220 no matter the sacrifice. The volunteer community elders who heeded the call to membership did not deserve to be just pushed aside unceremoniously and bear forever the mark of being inutile down the road to nowhere. They were also honorable men although their attires were not as smoothly pressed as their national counterparts. For sure, many of them were more effective in the maintenance or restoration of peace and order and providing for their families than many formally schooled lawyers and law enforcers put together.