Baseline – Congressman Allan Jesse Mangaoang emphasized that the Baguio-Benguet public consultation should serve as a baseline for the upcoming consultations in Abra, Apayao, Kalinga, Mt. Province and Ifugao.

BAGUIO – The first of the region-wide public consultations on House Bill 5343 concluded with overwhelming support. Baguio representative Mark Go and the rest of the panel welcomed statements of support from various government agencies and peoples’ organizations. The consultation was attended by more than 300 multi-sectoral stakeholders from Baguio and Benguet.

Cordillera Representatives Go, Alan Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga and legislative caretaker of Mountain Province, and Ronald Cosalan of Benguet were joined by Regional Development Council (RDC) Chair and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, and RDC Vice-chair and NEDA CAR Regional Director Milagros Rimando to listen and respond to the queries, comments and suggestions on the proposed Cordillera Organic Act from the participants.

We are here today to listen to what our people have to say about a very important legislation that if approved, will chart the future of our region and the life of our people. We are here to be one with our people in threshing out how we can we further strengthen our dream of attaining autonomy”, Mangaoang said.

The Baguio Liga ng mga Barangay, Cordillera Bodong Administration, DOLE, DILG, DPWH and DOH all expressed their support through enthusiastic speeches. DepEd, DA, and DSWD were not able to present their statement of support but later forwarded these to the Office of Congressman Go and the RDC.

Meanwhile, two organizations recommended some improvements of the bill. Domogan implored those who have insights and further recommendations on the bill to forward their position papers and recommendations to the CAR representatives and the RDC. “If you can submit [a proposasl] it will be very much appreciated by Congress”, Domogan said.

Congressman Go welcomed recommendations made by organizations like the IGOROTA foundation, Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance and Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte – Cordillera (MRRD-Cordillera). “We want to hear all comments, pro and against, okay lang”, Go added.

At the end, Go recognized the overall positive stance of Baguio and Benguet when he said, “It seems that we can conclude that there is an overwhelming support for HB 5343. We will make sure to include this in our report to the Committee on Local Government.”

The public consultations are sanctioned by the House Committee on Local Government. The CAR representatives serve as the lead implementer in conducting these in coordination with the provincial and city LGUs, RDC and NEDA. (by Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA- SPCAR)