By Rimaliza Opiña

Sun Star Baguio, Saturday, November 10, 2007

As MOVES have been revived on plans to attain an autonomous Cordillera, women leaders in the region said this is not the time to pursue the bid for a self-sufficient government.

Kalinga Governor Floydelia Diasen said: “We should learn from what has happened in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), where instead of having a government that is independent in terms of governance, fiscal management, indigenous practices preservation and infrastructure development among others, provinces in these regions remain poor.”

Political instability in the country is also a reason not to pursue the plan, said Presidential legislative liaison officer Josephine Dominguez.

Atok Mayor Concepcion Balao, for her part, echoed observations that the region is not ready to embrace the concept of autonomy.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) has renewed plans of pushing for an autonomous Cordillera region. It vowed to utilize an approach that would spell success for the plan.

The RDC began forming committees and held consultations among various stakeholders to gather inputs for the proposed amendments to the organic act.

A mock plebiscite is also being thought of by the group, the result of which is expected to serve as gauge if the public is ready for autonomy.

Among the issues that the organic act should address include administrative organization of an autonomous region, creation of a sustainable revenue source, ancestral domain and natural resources management, personal, family and party relations, regional urban and rural planning development, economic, social and cultural development, educational policies, preservation of cultural heritages and institutionalization of indigenous knowledge systems and practices.

By virtue of Executive Order (EO) 220 signed by then President Corazon Aquino, the Cordillera Regional Assembly, Cordillera Executive Board and Cordillera Budong Administration was formed as oversight committees for the conduct of a plebiscite.

In 1990 and 1998, both plebiscites were turned down. Only the province of Ifugao voted in favor of autonomy in 1990 and Apayao in 1998.