National Support – DOT Undersecretary Marco Bautista of Abra and PLLO Assistant Secretary Orville Ballitoc of Ifugao are among the Cordillerans holding national government positions who vowed to support the region’s renewed pursuit of Cordillera autonomy.

BAGUIO CITY – During the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) celebrations on October 29 at the PFVR gymnasium, Cordillerans holding national positions gave hope that Cordillera autonomy is achievable during the current administration. Undersecretary Marco Bautista and Assistant Secretary Orville Ballitoc of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) both recognized that for the Cordillera region, the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) is but a stepping stone for Cordilleran IPs’ rights and representation and regional autonomy is the ultimate goal.

Organized by NCIP-CAR, the 21th IPRA month celebration, was held with the theme: “Empowering Cordillera towards comfortable life”.  Other Cordillerans holding national positions who joined Undersecretary Bautista and Assistant Secretary Ballitoc are Ret. Brig. Gen. Ramon Yogyog of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns, and Atty. Modesta Chungalao who was deputy spokesperson for the President under former spokesperson Harry Roque.

Usec. Bautista asserted that empowerment for Cordilleran IPs must continue. He said that the celebration was “the day to renew our resolve and commitment as ‘One Cordillera’, and that we need to work for the passing of the Cordillera Organic act; which has yet to be achieved”. “We have to keep the fire burning…”, he added.

Asec. Orville Ballitoc later reassured that PLLO is working to further the Cordillera autonomy advocacy in both Houses of Congress. Ballitoc recalls the continued efforts of the RDC through NEDA-CAR in spearheading the renewed pursuit for regional autonomy that is focused on achieving sustainable development for the Cordillera.

Autonomy is central theme of Cordillera development by the RDC since 2006. The renewed pursuit for autonomy is focused on informing Cordillerans of its benefits. This is to address the failures of the past two plebiscites that were marred by disinformation and lack of awareness among voters. NEDA, as the secretariat of the RDC has led the pursuit of Cordillera autonomy through its Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (CAR) program.