The Regional Development Council (RDC) – CAR conducted a Regional Executive Forum on Autonomy and Federalism at the Ating Tahanan, South Drive, Baguio City last July 20, 2016.
The activity was an opportunity to provide additional knowledge on autonomy and on federalism, which is one of the agenda of the new administration, to the members of the Cordillera Association of Regional Executives (CARE).
Atty. Benedicto Bacani, executive director of the Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG), shared his thoughts on governance in an autonomous and in a federal government, as well as the experience of the ARMM. He emphasized that the question will be on the degree of autonomy in a unitary system as we currently have, or autonomy in a federal system as advocated by the Duterte administration.
He discussed that federalism may be of two kinds, symmetric federalism or asymmetric federalism. He said that in a symmetric federalism, all states will have the same powers and privileges in their relation to the federal government while in an asymmetric federalism, all states will have the same constitutional status but one or more of the states will considerably have more autonomy than the other sub- states.
He also reminded the Cordillerans not to repeat the failure of the ARMM. He said that there was a problem on double autonomy between the autonomy of LGUs under the national government and the autonomy of the regional government under the organic law because there was no actual devolution of powers to the autonomous government.
As a final note, Bacani proposed a two- track approach for Cordillera autonomy advocates; the first was to pass the organic law in Congress and plebiscite in the next three years to preserve the constitutional autonomy status of the Cordillera. The second is to have a stronger and unified position in the proposed charter change for the retention of the provisions mandating the creation of autonomous regions in Mindanao and Cordillera.