QUEZON CITY – Congressman Elias Bulut of the lone district of Apayao urged more involvement of the Cordillera representatives in the Regional Development Council (RDC) during the RDC Advisory Committee meeting on August 14, 2019. “My colleagues here in Congress have been talking and we agreed that we need a more harmonious relationship between Cordillera Congressmen and the RDC”, Bulut said. As a former governor and member of the RDC, Congressman Bulut recognized the potential of having the Cordillera legislators attend and become members of the region’s highest policy-making body.

Ifugao representative Solomon Chungalao, addressing the regional line agency heads who were present in the meeting, said, “we are the ones obligated to defend your budget in Congress”.  He added that he wants to ensure bills such as the Cordillera Organic Law will not be “mutilated” in Congress. He likewise clarified that being part of the RDC can help ensure that proposed laws and budgets recommended by the RDC can go through legislation as intended.

Congressman Maximo Dalog of Mountain Province emphasized that “the RDC and the Cordillera Congressional representatives have one goal: the development of our region”.   Meanwhile, Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga emphasized that it is not just the budget that the CAR Congressmen are concerned about. He added that the legislators also need the help of the RDC. “We have filed so many bills that need the support of the RDC”, he said.

RDC Vice-Chair and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Milagros Rimando agreed that while the membership of the CAR representatives in the RDC is ideal, she said Executive Order 325 does not provide for their membership. She added that “It has been the RDC-CAR’s initiative to invite all Congressmen to the RDC meetings but indeed it would be much better to have you [Congressmen] in the RDC [as members]”, she commented.

Development Administration Committee Chair and DILG-CAR Regional Director Marlo Iringan accepted the task of reviewing EO 325 and to study the need for an amendment to have Cordillera Congressmen as members. This matter will be raised during the next RDC meeting to be held in Apayao in November.  Governor Eleanor Bulut-Begtang and Congressman Elias Bulut agreed to host the said meeting.

Currently, the RDC-CAR is CAR’s highest policy-making body which coordinates and sets the direction of regional development. It is composed of local chief executives, heads of regional line agency under the NEDA Board, representatives from the private sector, and special non-voting members from both the public and private sectors.