BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR), led by Chairman and Abra Governor Joy Bernos, held its last meeting of the year on November 29 together with the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chaired by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and the Regional Taskforce Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC), led by Department of Agriculture Secretary and Cabinet Officer on Regional Development and Security for the Cordillera William Dar.

The RDC-RPOC passed 9 resolutions during the meeting. Two of these resolutions involved the addition of the 7 Cordillera Congressmen and the 2 Private Sector Representatives of the Infrastructure sector as members of the RDC. The 2 new PSRs. Peter Rey Bautista of the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI) and Maria Jorquesa Hakcholna of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners, will be co-sharing their terms due to an election tie.

Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Committee, led by DPWH-CAR Regional Director Tiburcio Canlas, presented 2 resolutions which the Council approved: “Endorsing the conduct of feasibility studies of the proposed alternate Nueva Vizcaya-Ifugao roads passing through Ambaguio-Tinoc and Villaverde-Lawig-Lamut” and “Requesting the DPWH to conduct a feasibility study and detailed engineering design for the full rehabilitation of Kennon Road”. Both feasibility studies aim to determine ways to improve transportation connectivity in CAR.

The Council also joined other regions in their support of national initiatives. The Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns initiated the support to the President’s call for the creation of a Department of Culture (Kagawaran ng Kultura) which was adopted through a joint RDC-RPOC resolution. The resolution stressed the importance of forming Local Culture and Arts Councils in the municipal and regional levels once the department is created.

The Cordillera Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 Midterm Update was also adopted. The Plan details the region’s strategic thrusts for 2020-2022. The Regional Plan is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 which serves as the current administration’s strategy for national development.

Another resolution, presented by the Development Administration Committee Chair and DILG-CAR Regional Director Marlo Iringan, was passed. It sought to support the RDC Central Visayas in their Resolution No. 28 S. 2019, “Requesting the Supreme Court to designate Special Courts to Exclusively Handle Expropriation Cases”. The request aims to fast track the various pending expropriation cases which involve right-of-way cases and infrastructure projects.

At the regional level, the RDC endorsed the Social Development Committee resolution, “Earnestly Requesting All Local Government Units and Hospitals in the Cordillera Administrative Region to Allocate Budget for the ‘Cordillera Senior Citizen Booklet’ for Sustainability”.

The RDC also endorsed 2 resolutions in support of the pursuit of Cordillera autonomy. One was on “Requesting the President’s Support to the Pursuit of Cordillera Autonomy Towards Federalism” and the other was “Organizing the Cordillera Autonomy Advocates Group”, in recognition of the willingness of advocates to formally assist in the autonomy pursuit.

The RDC is the highest policy-making body in the region composed of the Cordillera Congressmen and local chief executives in the provincial, city, and municipal level as well as government agencies, private sector representatives. All these leaders work together towards development and autonomy for the region. It is composed of 6 sectoral committees and 7 support committees. The RDC-CAR has spearheaded the renewed pursuit of regional autonomy since its recognition in 2006 as the best way to achieve sustainable development and just and lasting peace in the region.