(Top-right, clockwise) Cordillera elders learn about indigenous peoples’ rights and self-determination towards autonomy; OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza addresses pioneers of the Cordillera struggle for autonomy; a forum in Bakun, Benguet aims to educate Cordillerans at the barangay level; and members of The Cordillera Connection Band help raise awareness among the youth in Bontoc through relevant music – all towards the fulfillment of regional autonomy. (File Photos)

BAGUIO CITY – Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri’s commitment to sponsor the senate version of the Cordillera Autonomy Bill has greatly inspired the RDC and NEDA, and its partners and stakeholders to work further for the autonomy advocacy this year.

Senator Zubiri’s commitment was made during the Congressional Forum on Cordillera Autonomy and Federalism. The event was jointly organized by RDC and NEDA with the Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) held on January 17 at the Batasang Pambansa, Quezon City.

The RDC and NEDA have several projects lined up for the year to continue the momentum derived from this event. The grassroots and barangay level remain as the main priority for information dissemination projects. Among these is a series of grassroots information drives scheduled in February for the barangays of Bekigan, Belwang and Sacasacan in the municipality of Sadanga. Several IEC fora for Cordillera leaders in the barangay to the provincial level are likewise slated within the year to maximize the advocacy’s reach and influence in the grassroots.

The youth sector is another priority for information dissemination with the continuing youth concert-forum events. Yet another concert-forum on Cordillera autonomy will be held in Sagada, during its Etag Festival. This is one of three other planned concert-forum events for the youth of the region this year. Another project is a campus tour involving both state and private universities and colleges and other higher education institutions around the region. A training is also put in place for younger speakers to be part of the RDC’s Information, Education and Communication (IEC) speakers’ bureau.

National alliances are continually explored and strengthened. Dialogue with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the continued partnership with the Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) serve as building blocks towards strengthening ties with the Bangsamoro. Continuing engagements with national government agencies and national media in collaboration with IAG aim to raise awareness of the advocacy. A Senate forum and a meeting with the Office of the President are also planned later this year to strengthen the alliances forged last 2017 (by Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA- SPCAR).