By Shah Balaw-ing

Regional autonomy is for the people to decide. With your help, our people can wisely decide on the issue.

These words were the challenge of Ifugao Representative Teddy B. Baguilat, Jr. to private and government media practitioners including information officers of regional line agencies and provincial local government units during the media powwow last November 17-18, 2013 at the Palm Grove Resort in Asin, Tuba, Benguet.  The event, which was convened by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) was one of the pre-summit activities of the Regional Development Council (RDC) to elicit critical inputs from the media sector. The media powwow was attended by about 85 from print and broadcast and information officers.

Atty. Delmar Cariño, a member of the RDC Regional Speakers’ Bureau on Regional Autonomy clarified that the activity is not to convince media people to become supporters of regional autonomy. We understand you have your own biases and we recognize the importance of your independence but we hope that when you write about the issue, you can write about it intelligently and that your stories can stimulate discussions among the public, Cariño said.  

It is not whether you are for or against it but how you give out information while maintaining objectivity, he said.

RDC Vice Chairman and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Milagros A. Rimando explained the various reasons why the RDC renewed pursuit of regional autonomy in 2006 as a development strategy to accelerate the socio-economic development of the region. The RDC is now at a crucial stage of consulting its stakeholders whether to re-file the draft organic act as is or amend first before having it filed by the congressmen.

Dr. Evelyn A. Esquejo of the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute facilitated an action plan wherein the media practitioners and information officers are urged to arouse public debates and discussions on regional autonomy.