Secretary Teresita Deles of the Peace Process expressed her support to the Cordillera’s move for regional autonomy. She however advised that the RDC has to work harder to get the President’s support.

In a meeting with an RDC contingent led by RDC Vice-Chairperson Milagros Rimando on April 11, 2014, the Secretary said that in order to support the Cordillera’s third attempt to be an autonomous region, the President has to be fully convinced that it is what the majority of the Cordillerans want.

Being a political exercise, the pursuit of regional autonomy, according to Secretary Deles, should have widespread support of the region’s officials and CSOs. She also advised the RDC to go sectoral in its IEC activities, specifically citing the church groups as an influential force in the campaign.

Encouraging the RDC, Secretary Deles said that the President’s was also at first not totally convinced with the Bangsamoro Peace Agreement. He was even quoted several times as saying the ARMM is a failed experiment. After having been totally convinced of its merits, however, he ended up supporting the agreement. As a result, the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was finally signed in October 2012.

Congressman Baguilat also shared that in the past talks he had with PNoy about autonomy, the President would always ask him two questions: “Do you believe it will be good for the Cordilleran?”, and “Is it what the Cordillera people want?”

The meeting ended with the resolve among the RDC contingent that April 30 – the Cordillera Autonomy Summit – will mark the start of an even more heightened IEC campaign for autonomy for the region.

Aside from the RDC Vice-Chairperson and NEDA-CAR Dir. Milagros Rimando, the RDC members present during the meeting with the OPAPP Secretary included the RDC Secom Chairmen DILG Dir. John Castañeda (DevAd),  NCIP Dir. Amador Batay-an (Indigenous Concerns), DOST Dir. Julius Caesar Sicat (EconDev),  DSWD Dir. Leonardo Reynoso (Social Dev), and DENR Dir. Paquito Moreno (Watershed and ENR Committee). Also present were Private Sector Representatives John Bugaling and Rafael Gayaso.

Arranged by Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, the meeting was held in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).