National Allies – The Cordillera autonomy advocacy gained strong commitment from various allies, both old and new, to advance it at the national level.

“Cordillera autonomy is a victory that should not be postponed anymore” – OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera autonomy advocacy has made significant strides at the national stage in this year’s first quarter as the National Economic and Development Authority Cordillera (NEDA-CAR) and the Regional Development Council continued to build on the advances made in 2017.National leaders have affirmed support for Cordilelra autonomy during the Congressional forum on Cordillera autonomy and Federalism. The filing of a senate bill on autonomy by Senator Miguel Zubiri, the meeting with ARMM and CAR autonomy advocates, the meeting with PCOO Asec. Marie Banaag, and the support of PUBLiCUS as part of their public interest advocacy project also demonstrated increasing national support.

New allies and partners established made during the January Congressional Forum on Cordillera autonomy and Federalism co-organized by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG). Maguindanao 1st district representative and Deputy Speaker Bai Sema acknowledged the similarities between the two regions, “I’m very happy to see the other community who fought invaders are now trying to regain back their right to self-determination“.

She committed to strengthen partnership of the two regions by saying, “As you are inviting me to become part of your fight for autonomy, I would also likewise ask you to help us have that BBL”.  Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Atty. Jose Lorena added, “The voices of the Cordillera and the Bangsamoro must be heard in this struggle to have a meaningful autonomy for both”.

In the same meeting, Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza and various Cordillera autonomy champions requested Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri to author the senate counterpart of House Bill 5343 or “An act establishing the Autonomous Region of Cordillera”. Zubiri accepted and he fulfilled this request by filing Senate Bill 1678 on February 1. He noted, “through regional autonomy, underdevelopment and poverty in the Cordillera can be more effectively addressed”.

Following this, various Cordillera and Bangsamoro autonomy champions met on February 15 to discuss strategies to advance the Cordillera autonomy bills. IAG Executive Director Benedicto Bacani, committed facilitate the conduct of a Senate forum similar to the one conducted last January 17. CAR and ARMM representatives also agreed to bring the region’s clamor to the House of Representatives Committee on Local Government.

Public consultations on the Cordillera Organic Act led by all CAR representatives thus began last April 19 in Baguio and Benguet. Various LGU, RLA officials, academics and CSOs showed their overwhelming support to the organic act. The representatives will gather comments, suggestions and statements of support from all CAR provinces as part of the committee report. During the committee’s plenary session.

NEDA-CAR led by its Regional Director and Regional Development Council Vice-chair, Milagros Rimando, with representatives from OPAPP and PIA-CAR also met with PCOO Asec. Marie Banaag on March 6 to discuss possible strategies in increasing the presence of the advocacy in traditional and social media particularly among the youth sector.

On the same day, PUBLiCUS Asia committed to increase support to the advocacy in both Houses of Congress as part of their public interest advocacy project. They have developed key messages for national officials to grow support for Cordillera autonomy being the RDc partners particularly in legislative matter pertaining to its autonomy advocacy.

 

 

by Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA- SPCAR