BAGUIO CITY – Encouraged and empowered by national officials, Cordillera leaders in the local government and government agencies remain firm in pursuing Cordillera autonomy as the means for sustainable development in the region. “Covid or no covid, the quest for Cordillera autonomy continues”, said Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) Vice-Chair and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Milagros Rimando during the July 29 State of the Region Address and Kapihan.

This Kapihan marked the culmination of the month-long celebration of the 33rd CAR Founding Anniversary which became the venue to further unite the Cordillera provinces and cities and renew the clamor for the establishment of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. RDC Chair and Abra Governor Joy Bernos said that the work shown by Cordilleran leaders and officials in handling the quarantine proves the readiness of the Cordillera for autonomy. Moreover, DILG-CAR Regional Director Marlo Iringan added that the provincial governments of CAR and the City Government of Baguio all passed resolutions in support of the Cordillera autonomy pursuit.

Director Rimando said that while the planned activities for raising awareness and gaining support for Cordillera autonomy have changed, the goal remains the same. Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities are transitioning online. IEC advocates and speakers are training for this transition and more speakers are planned to be added to help spread awareness and gain support.

Both Governor Bernos and Director Rimando cited the Cordillera Development Vision in the Regional Development Plan which envisions a truly autonomous region that pursues sustainable development where responsibilities and benefits are equitably shared.

It can be recalled that on the July 15 celebration of the CAR founding anniversary, Cordilleran local chief executives and Congressmen declared their unified support in pursuing autonomy for the region. Guest of Honor, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, who started his career in Benguet, gave his words of support and encouragement and committed his office in helping the administrative region achieve its intended goal saying that autonomy is the means to achieve the full potential of the region. Secretary Dar was among several officials in national offices who recognized the performance of CAR in handling the pandemic and encouraged the continued pursuit of Cordillera autonomy.