Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, together with Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion Navarro and Office of the Secretary Director Aladin Ancheta, visited the Cordillera Region on February 6-7, 2019 to dialogue with CAR major stakeholders on the revitalization of the Baguio Airport and region’s pursuit of regional autonomy.

At the Baguio Airport, the NEDA officials, some Cordillera RDC officials, and other stakeholders were briefed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on the issues and concerns besetting the Baguio Airport.  Secretary Pernia expressed support to the RDC-CAR’s efforts to revitalize the airport and restore commercial flights, even as he suggested that the RDC convene a meeting with DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to discuss steps by which the airport can be revitalized.

The briefing which included a tour around the airport premises was followed by the Cordillera Stakeholders’ Meeting. Secretary Pernia and USec Navarro were apprised on the status of the region’s pursuit of autonomy.  The Secretary noted that “the success of the Bangsamoro Organic Law could be an impetus for the Cordillera’s aspirations to become autonomous”.  He committed to include the Cordillera Organic Act in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) Agenda.  He likewise urged the Cordillerans to work for a truly united front in their quest for autonomy and advised that the “Cordillera’s push for autonomy can be greatly boosted if the people are well-informed and aware of the benefits and implications of an autonomous region.”

In the press conference that followed, the Secretary lauded the region for having a growth rate of 12.1 percent in 2017, the highest among the regions that year.  This, he said, should be a source of pride for a region that has always been known for its rich natural resources.  He also assured the government’s continuing support to the agriculture sector through policy reforms that promote greater productivity and resilience against weather disturbances and climate change, especially in a region like CAR that only recently has felt the onslaught of two strong typhoons.

USec Navarro, on the other hand, underscored the role of agricultural tourism in boosting the economy of the region.  To this, NEDA-CAR Director Milagros Rimando added that the region is presently embarking on the promotion of creative tourism which is expected to decentralize development in the region.

A brief meeting with the NEDA-CAR staff was also held, during which some of the staff presented a Kalinga cultural dance. They were also given a tour around the Museo Kordilyera of UP Baguio, with no less than UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos showing them around and sharing how Baguio City was declared a member of the United Nations Creative Cities network and what activities are planned in relation to this UNESCO declaration.

The two-day visit, according to Secretary Pernia, was his first visit to Baguio City in 20 years. This was also the first visit of a NEDA Secretary to the region since the late Cayetano Paderanga’s visit in 2011.xxx