Harley Palangchao
Baguio Midland Courier, 2/1/2009 

President Gloria Arroyo is being requested to issue an executive or administrative order creating a “non-partisan” group that will spearhead the information education campaign for the eventual establishment of an autonomous Cordillera region.

The multi-sectoral group Autonomiya Kordillera (AKO) Inc. made the request as it noted that many Cordillerans expressed distrust over politicians campaigning for autonomy due to their habitual and insatiable personal interests and alleged corruption.

This even as AKO said in a resolution that “the mismanagement of autonomy campaign funds contributed to the continuing distrust of the people to their officials as the IEC fund had not been shared equally among the barangays.”

The group said non-partisan individuals can be recruited from the civic groups, religious sects, retired teachers, senior citizen leaders, and other private individuals with good standing in the community.

The group also proposed to Arroyo to include in her order that an IEC on autonomy should be conducted among the grassroots, especially in far-flung barangays, saying that educated Cordillerans are knowledgeable on autonomy being the very nature of their indigenous communities.

The AKO resolution noted that the rejections of the two organic acts in 1990 and 1998 plebiscites were due to lack of understanding of the autonomy issues.

The group, likewise, appealed to Arroyo that extensive national interventions and foreign assistance are needed towards the improvement of the lives of poverty-stricken Cordillerans who have long-suffered from government neglect over the past decades.

To recall, members of the media who served as panelists in a reverse press conference suggested to concerned government officials that having a regional network of communicators, not necessarily politicians but people knowledgeable of the demography of the six provinces in the Cordilleras, are among the key factors to be considered in the IEC on regional autonomy.