BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) through the Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region program (SPCAR) and Development Administration (DevAd) Committee in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-CAR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-CAR) gathered mayoral candidates for the City of Baguio and gubernatorial candidates of the region for a forum entitled “Conversations on Regional Autonomy: Timek para iti Otonomiya (Voice for Autonomy)” last April 25, 2022.
The forum was attended physically by two of the four mayoral candidates of Baguio City namely incumbent Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Atty. Mauricio Domogan. Also present virtually were gubernatorial candidates Julio Tindungan and Thomas Tundagui from Ifugao, and Dominic Valera from Abra.
Atty. Domogan said that autonomy can improve the management of the region’s natural resources by formulating policies that are applicable to the region and adapting indigenous knowledge system and practices in preserving the environment. He also explained that the establishment of regional autonomy will compliment the provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act of 1997 (IPRA) for the protection of indigenous lands. Also, he shared that through autonomy, the region will be able to place safeguards that will improve existing laws ensuring that projects are implemented properly. “Autonomy has always been part of my priority and is the hope for the Cordillera”, he added.
For his part, Mayor Magalong expressed his support for regional autonomy and highlights that the timing on pursuing this at the moment seeing the huge financial debt the country incurred due to the government’s pandemic response and the political maturity of the people given the political culture in the country should be considered. He also stressed that for the region to be successful in the advocacy for regional autonomy, each local government unit should have a transformation program ensuring good governance otherwise autonomy will fail. He stated that one of the core agenda of autonomy is to promote the IPRA law and its provision. For infrastructure development, Mayor Magalong mentioned that the region needs more bridges, hi-ways, and farm-to-market roads that will boost economic activity in preparation for autonomy.
Also expressing his support for regional autonomy is Mr. Tomas Tundagui, noting that infrastructure and socio-economic development will be at a faster pace allowing CAR to catch up with other regions. He added that through the establishment of Cordillera Autonomous Region, indigenous knowledge and traditions will be preserved benefitting not only for the present generation but also for the upcoming one. He called upon the Cordillerans to unite and rally for self-determination. “We must work for it, if necessary we’ll sacrifice for it,” he added.
Day 2 of the forum is scheduled on April 29 which will be participated by Congressional candidates in the region. The activity will provide an opportunity for the people to know the candidates’ insights for the pursuit of regional autonomy.