BAGUIO CITY – Socio-Economic and Planning Chief and NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia with Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion Navarro visited Baguio City on February 6 and 7 to hear the concerns of the Cordillera region. The two-day visit comprised of a meeting with NEDA-CAR Staff, a visit to the University of the Philippine Baguio Museo Kordilyera, a project visit to the Loakan Airport, a meeting with Cordillera Regional Development Council and stakeholders, and a press conference on the nation’s economy.

After meeting with NEDA-CAR staff, Secretary Pernia visited the Museo Kordilyera of UP Baguio. After learning about the culture of the Cordillera through the Feasts of Merit exhibit, UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos presented events held in the famous Diplomat Hotel ruins that were conducted as part of Baguio’s role as a folk arts and crafts city in the United Nations Creative Cities network. They were joined by representatives of the Baguio Arts Creative Council, Inc. (BACCI). Chancellor Rovillos and BACCI are proposing a permanent regional cultural creative center in the area. Secretary Pernia also visited the Loakan Airport where he expressed his support for its modernization. He underscored the potential of the airport for domestic flights and its importance in times of disaster and emergency.

NEDA has supported Cordillera in its many advocacies including the renewed the pursuit for autonomy since 2007. Various other regional projects have been developed with support by NEDA such as the Cordillera Roads Improvement Project and Phase II and scaling up of the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP).

Secretary Pernia recognizes the need for support from national leaders for Cordillera autonomy given the two plebiscites in 1990 and 1998 which failed due to a lack of proper information dissemination. He noted that the unification of the Cordillera through EO 220 has helped improve the lives of Cordillerans. He added that the consistent good economic performance of the region must be rewarded. Sec. Pernia, therefore, committed to include the draft Cordillera Organic Act as part of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) agenda but urged that Cordillerans must show that they are willing to be autonomous. The Cordillera people must show their willingness to have an autonomous regional government in a referendum, Pernia suggested.

Secretary Pernia shared that this was his first visit to Baguio City in 20 years. It is the first visit of a NEDA Secretary since the late Secretary Cayetano Paderanga visited in 2011.