Ben Feken
Editorial, Zigzag Weekly Online, April 19, 2009

A NEWS REPORT in this paper’s last issue caught my attention. It could not fail to do so considering that it is about one of my pet peeves. My foremost peeve, in fact, when it comes to current affairs in our locality. Can you guess the report I’m referring to? Yes, it’s the account written by Dexter See based on reports by Joel Belinan pertaining to the reported scrapping by the Senate of the funds intended for the so-called Information and Education Campaign on Cordillera Autonomy by the Cordillera Regional Development Council for the year 2009. According to the report the national budget sans the Autonomy IEC allocation had been signed by the President. It went on to say that the Cordillera Regional Development Council, chaired by the voluble Juan Ngalob of NEDA-CAR, in its latest meeting appealed to PGMA to remedy the scrapped funding. It added that Baguio City’s congressman Mauricio Domogan, a leading advocate of Autonomy, said that he and other Cordillera officials will request President Arroyo to remedy the scrapped allocation by drawing on her Presidential Social Fund.

Whether the President will heed their request or not remains to be seen.

Now, a comment. Ngalob, Domogan and other Autonomy advocates may decry the scrapping by the Senate of the said allotment and they may fume and gnash their teeth but personally I think what the Senate did was very sensible. I am certain the concerned senators made their decision to do away with the Autonomy funding after much discussion among themselves. I cannot believe that they did it willy-nilly. My theory is that after discussing the matter of giving additional millions of pesos to the Cordillera RDC (it was given P15 million in 2007 and another P18 million in 2008 making a total of P33 million) just to conduct an information and education campaign the senators came to the consensus that doing so is a waste of taxpayers’ money. If this particular theory is correct then I repeat that what the senators did was exceedingly sensible.

I can imagine one of the skeptical senators addressing his colleagues thus: “Gentlemen, after two years of conducting what they touted as a scientific method of informing and educating their fellow-Cordillerans regarding the benefits of regional autonomy and spending 33 million pesos in the process what do the CRDC bigwigs have to show for it? Going by popular feedback, practically zero. If ‘scientific’ and efficient information and education had truly been done then most, if not all, Cordillerans would now be clamoring for autonomy. Instead any mention of Autonomy is generally met by, at best, an indifferent shrug of the shoulders and, at worst, a prolonged yawn. If that is the trend where is the sense in giving additional funding…” And so on and so forth.

I love imagining that something like this hypothetical speech was delivered in the House of Senate and I like to believe that it was what prompted the concerned senators to do what they did.