Cordillera Autonomy still relevant – DILG-CAR OIC Regional Director Araceli San Jose (rightmost) and NEDA-CAR Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen (leftmost) express the relevance of regional autonomy even with the implementation of the Mandanas ruling during the kick-off of the Cordillera Month Celebration.

BAGUIO CITY – The pursuit of Cordillera Regional Autonomy gained more ground as Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-CAR) OIC Regional Director Araceli San Jose and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) Assistant Regional Director and Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) Secretary Stephanie Christiansen emphasized the relevance of regional autonomy under the full effect of the Mandanas Ruling during the kick-off ceremony of the 34th Cordillera Month Celebration on July 1,2021.

OIC Regional Director San Jose of DILG-CAR mentioned that under the Mandanas ruling which will take full effect on 2022, the internal revenue allotment (IRA) for the local government units (LGU) will increase by 38 percent as compared to the IRA in 2021. The increase in IRA will have a great effect in support to the devolved basic services stipulated under Section 17 of the Local Government Code of 1991 for the full implementation of the LGUs. “Cordillera autonomy is a promise of the constitution and even with the implementation of the full devolution under the Mandanas Ruling, the Cordillera Region will remain on the losing end, receiving only minimal shares of the allocation since it is based on total land area and population. But, with Cordillera Autonomy more funds will be assured from the national government for the development of the region,” San Jose added.

Further, Assistant Regional Director Christiansen of NEDA-CAR stated that basic services defined in the 1991 Local Government Code shall be devolved and that there are higher-level services that remain with the national government.  She cited the example on roads management where local roads development shall be with the LGUs and national roads remain with the national government which therefore would be among the areas of concern of a regional government. She emphasized that even with the full devolution, there are a number of policy issues that are key to the Cordillera, hence the need for regional autonomy. “For example, policies on natural resources management are much in the hands of the national government and this has been a fundamental concern in CAR’s quest for regional autonomy”, Christiansen noted. She concluded that the core messages of regional autonomy continue to be relevant, i.e.: (1) enhanced Cordillera identity; (2) responsive policies for the region; and (3) progress for all.

July 15, 2021 marks the 34th founding anniversary of the establishment of the Cordillera Administrative Region through the signing of Executive Order 220 on July 15,1987. The Cordillera Administrative Region serves as a transitory region into an Autonomous Region of the Cordillera as promised by the Philippine Constitution.

By Bob Lyndon B. Daroya