BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Congressmen and governors joined the Regional Development Budget Coordinating Committee (RDBCC) in the review of the Fiscal year 2021 budget proposals of Regional Line Agencies and State Universities and Colleges during the RDBCC Budget Consultation on February 27 and 28.

With their participation in the consultation, Congressmen Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao and Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga are better informed on the nature of proposed projects in the region thus armed to support such during the Congressional budget hearing. Chungalao stressed the need for more development projects in his district of Ifugao and in the Cordillera as a whole. Farm-to-Market roads and irrigation projects are needed most in CAR, Chungalao said.

Congressmen Maximo Dalog Jr. of Mountain Province, Mark Go of Baguio City, Elias Bulut Jr. of Apayao and Eric Yap, as the caretaker of the legislative district of Benguet were also represented. Governors Eleanor Bulut-Begtang of Apayao, Ferdinand Tubban of Kalinga and Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. of Mountain Province urged the agencies to refer to their respective Local Development Investment Program in preparing agency budgets. Particularly, as part of the whole-of-nation-approach to ending the local communist armed conflict, agencies must also include proposed priority projects for the identified communist-affected barangays. RDC Private Sector Representatives Edna Tabanda and Ferdinand Gonzales emphasized that 5% of all government budgets must be attributed to Gender and Development programs, projects and activities.

The Cordillera Administrative Region line agencies have consistently received the least total budget compared to other regions. According to DBM-CAR, Cordillera regional agencies received about 1.9% of the total budget of all government agencies in 2020. Several times in the consultation, agencies cite the difficulty of planning and implementing projects in the region with the standard policies of their respective central offices.

The Cordillera Regional Development Council stresses the need to fast-track regional development through an autonomous governance structure. Autonomy would allow the region to better manage its resources and address unresponsive policies that do not consider the region’s unique geographical and cultural characteristics.

The Department of Budget and Management Cordillera previously gathered agencies for a budget forum last January 28 to review budget guidelines and regional priorities based on the Regional Development Plan and Regional Development Investment Program. The Regional Development Council is expected to endorse the proposed budgets to the respective Department Secretaries during its meeting in Abra on March 5.