The House Committee on Local Government (CLG) chaired by Valenzuela 1st District Representative Rex Gatchalian approved House Bill 3267 (HB 3267) “An Act Establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region” during the committee’s hearing last November 10, 2022.
With a united stance, Cordillera Representatives Menchie Bernos of Abra, Eleanor Bulut-Begtang of Apayao, Mark Go of Baguio City, Eric Yap of Benguet, Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao, Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga, and Maximo Dalog Jr. of Mountain Province refiled HB 3267 last August 8, 2022 with the hope of having the said bill enacted into law this 19th Congress.
Congressman Go stated that the said measure seeks to finally fulfill the mandate of the 1987 Constitution providing autonomy to Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. The same bill was filed during the 18th Congress and was approved by the House of Representatives but due to “lack of material time”, the Senate was not able to pass the bill. “Autonomy shall serve as the foundation that will empower the Cordillera people to pursue sustainable and inclusive growth through the management, protection, and development of their natural and human resources, and the promotion of the rights and culture of the Cordillera people,” he added.
Assistant Regional Director Stephanie F. Christiansen of the NEDA Cordillera Regional Office (NRO-CAR) who was virtually present during the hearing expressed NRO-CAR’s strong support for the passage of the proposed organic act. She added that regional autonomy is the most strategic way to fast-track the achievement of the regional development goals given the region’s historical, cultural, and geographic uniqueness. She also mentioned the latest result of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) commissioned 2021 Pulse Survey that showed an increase in the overall regional awareness on Cordillera autonomy and a 71 percent yes vote turnout excluding undecided voters.
The Cordillera Administrative Region was created through the issuance of Executive Order 220 on July 15, 1987 by then President Corazon Aquino as a transitory region for the purpose of administrative decentralization in order to accelerate the economic and social growth of the different units of the region and in preparation for regional autonomy.
With the approval of the House Committee on Local Government, the proposed organic act will be submitted to the House Committee on Ways and Means and Committee on Appropriation. On the other hand, with the leadership of NRO-CAR Regional Director Susan A. Sumbeling and the RDC-CAR through its Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) program shall continue to perform its mandate in preparing the region for autonomy through its Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities to raise awareness and support for the advocacy, gain support from local and national officials for Cordillera autonomy through Alliance Building (AB) activities and train and capacitate different stakeholders in preparation for regional autonomy through Capacity Building (CAP) activities.
By Bob Lyndon B. Daroya, SPCAR