QUEZON CITY – Cordilleran representatives to the 18th Congress reiterate the need to fulfill the Constitutional mandate for achieving Cordillera autonomy during the 2019 Regional Development Council (RDC) Advisory Committee meeting on August 14.

DOH-CAR Regional Director Amelita Pangilinan set the tone for the meeting with her prayer saying that all the efforts of the Cordillera are towards the dream of autonomy. Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga echoed her sentiments and agreed that regional autonomy is the purpose and end-goal of the Cordillera Administrative Region. “Cordillera autonomy is the bottom line”, he said.

The Cordillera Autonomy Draft Organic Law was not part of the meeting agenda as recommended by Congressman Mark Go of Baguio City and Joseph Bernos of Abra during the August 8 RDC-RPOC meeting. They urged that a separate meeting should be held within September 2019. However, the pursuit of regional autonomy was briefly discussed during the August 14 meeting. Congressman Elias Bulut, Jr. of Apayao, urged that the CAR Congressmen should meet to determine what kind of bill the Cordilleran legislators want to file. Bulut also expressed the desire of the Cordillera Congressmen to be members of the RDC to promote harmonious coordination. Ifugao Congressman Solomon Chungalao wanted to ensure that all the Congressmen know the bill that will be filed as they are the ones who will defend it in Congress.

It can be recalled that Congressman Go earlier said in the August 8 meeting of the RDC that he wants to ensure that the bill to be filed in the 18th Congress is representative of the consultations with Cordillerans. Congressman Bernos reiterated his concern over addressing the Cordillera autonomy advocacy and the approach and consultation among indigenous and non-indigenous Cordillerans, particularly in Abra. “At the end of the day, we [Congressmen] will be the ones who will file the bill, we will be your number one lobbyists in Malacañang or wherever, all seven of us”, he added.

Congressman Maximo Dalog, Jr. of Mountain Province looked forward to better coordination among the CAR legislators and the RDC towards the filing of the draft Cordillera Organic Law.

The RDC Advisory Committee is composed of all seven CAR congressmen and sectoral committee chairpersons, the RDC Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and Secretary. A separate meeting among the CAR Congressmen is expected to be held in September to determine the content of the bill to be filed in Congress.