Raising awareness – A barangay official of Baguio City inquires on how to include discussions on Cordillera autonomy in their respective barangay.

BAGUIO CITY – The around 250 more Baguio barangay officials from districts 11-20 attended the second batch of discussion on Cordillera autonomy towards federalism last November 12. Autonomy advocates and NEDA-CAR presented the basic concepts of Cordillera autonomy and the renewed pursuit of the region towards its achievement. The event is a partnership of NEDA-CAR and LGU Baguio City.

Regional Development Council Chair and Baguio City Mayor Domogan once again opened the forum with his welcome remarks. The mayor stressed that the Cordillera Administrative Region is temporary and its purpose is to prepare the region for autonomous governance. He emphasized the need for a permanent Cordilleran identity saying, “This affects all of us, not just the City of Baguio”.

Autonomy advocate Atty. Delmar Cariño later expounded on the basic concepts of Cordillera autonomy saying that the main goal is to decentralize certain powers of the national government and devolve them to the regional government. He added that the renewed pursuit of regional autonomy aims for inclusive growth by formulating policies that are appropriate to the unique topography and rich culture of the Cordillera. Attorney Cariño encouraged the barangay officials to read further into the proposed Organic act establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC). Atty. Cariño challenged the officials to make sure the proposed Organic act responds to the needs of the Cordillera people.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) adopted the establishment of Cordillera autonomy as the overarching theme of Cordillera development in 2006. Since then, the RDC led by NEDA-CAR continues to pursue regional autonomy. One of the major shortcomings of the past two attempts to establish autonomy through plebiscite was the lack of proper information dissemination. The top priority of this renewed pursuit is to increase awareness on Cordillera autonomy among local and national stakeholders which would translate into support for the plebiscite on the proposed third organic act.

The first batch of discussions on Cordillera autonomy was attended by Baguio barangay officials from districts 1-10 was held on October 29. Officials from both forums signed a statement supporting the proposed Cordillera organic act and were encouraged to submit proposals for further information dissemination among their respective barangays.

NEDA-CAR continues to coordinate with local government units to raise awareness and gain support to the advocacy through the conduct of IEC forums, provision of IEC materials and invitation of autonomy advocates to educate the grassroots about autonomy.