BAGUIO CITY – The NCIP-CAR partnered with NEDA-CAR to provide updates to Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) in the Cordillera on the continued pursuit of Cordillera autonomy led by the Regional Development Council-CAR. NCIP and NEDA conducted face-to-face and virtual meetings with CAR IPMRs from December 1 to 16.
Over 80 participants joined and signified their commitment to sustain support in the advocacy urging the President to certify as a priority the bill establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera as sounded off by the CAR Congressmen, local government units, and private sector representatives. A mock plebiscite was also conducted where 89.7% voted in favor of establishing the Autonomous Cordillera Region, 2.3% voted no, while 8% remain undecided.
A common sentiment that surfaced was that the community elders’ opposition to the previous two attempts was because the bill was not explained to them properly. Others who were in favor in 1990 and 1998 also expressed that they faced strong opposition from doubters who did not understand the benefits that autonomous governance can provide the region. As part of their commitment, IPMRs will work with NEDA-CAR through the SPCAR Program to increase awareness and support of Cordillera autonomy in their local communities. NCIP Commissioner for Region 1 and CAR, Gaspar Cayat, called for the involvement of the IPMRs. He stressed that the community elders are the best way to reach the grassroots and amplify support for autonomy.
Currently, there are three bills filed in Congress establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera, Senate Bill 1232 filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Bill 5687 filed by all CAR Congressmen, and House Bill 7778 filed by Benguet Caretaker Congressman Eric Yap. With increasing support for Cordillera autonomy legislation, having a pool of advocates ready for information dissemination is crucial for attaining the ‘yes’ vote during the plebiscite.