MANKAYAN, BENGUET – The Alliance of General Parents Teachers Association-Indigenous Peoples Farmers (AGTA-IPF) in coordination with NEDA-CAR gathered senior high school students and teachers from different schools all over the municipality for an Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) forum on Cordillera autonomy held at the Mankayan National High School Gym last January 24, 2020.

The activity aimed to educate the participants regarding the pursuit of regional autonomy as well as its basic concepts. Dr. Paulina Sawadan, a member of the Regional Development Council (RDC) IEC speakers’ bureau, spoke on the three core messages of Cordillera autonomy, i.e. an enhanced Cordilleran Identity, responsive policies for the Cordillerans, and progress for all.  The participants asked questions on the benefits, potential problems and disadvantages regional autonomy. One student expressed a potential problem on the corruption of future leaders of the autonomous government. In response, Dr. Sawadan urged the youth to choose honest and capable leaders and be leaders themselves for the betterment of the region.

A mock plebiscite was held after the forum with 78% voted for YES to autonomy, 3% not in favor, and 19% still undecided.

After the two failed plebiscites of 1990 and 1998, a renewed drive for regional autonomy is spearheaded by the RDC-CAR. House Bill no. 5687: “An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera”, was filed last December 2, 2019 in the House of Representatives which was authored by all of Cordillera’s Congressmen. Senate Bill 1232, a counterpart bill, was filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri last December 11, 2019.