With all the major and trivial issues in maintstream media overshadowing Cordillera’s pursuit of genuine autonomy, the Cordillera Regional Development Council (CAR RDC) members conveyed that this endeavor is still and will continue to be a priority.

During the Kapihan held on December 17, 2014 at the DOST-CAR Regional Office, La Trinidad, Benguet, CAR RDC Vice-Chairperson and NEDA Regional Director Milagros Rimando, DOST Director Julius Caesar Sicat, and Private Sector Representative John Bugaling answered all queries raised by RDC’s media partners.

In essence, the forum allowed  print and broadcast media practitioners to express their concerns and sentiments with respect to Cordillera’s pursuit of autonomy.

The status of drafting the proposed Executive Order had been one of the targets of inquiry.  “By virtue of EO 220, we are now a special region,”, said Director Rimando.  She clarified the end goal of drafting an EO is to strengthen the status of CAR as a special region.  “It proposes to help accelerate the social development and economic growth of the region while also accelerating the region’s social preparation towards autonomy.”

Having drafted an EO however is not sufficient. A briefing note addressed to the President that explains CAR as lagging  in terms of getting resources from the national government will accompany the drafted EO, said Dir. Rimando.

Though the contents are not yet finalized, Dir. Rimando disclosed the final title of the drafted EO, which is “Accelerating the economic growth and social development of CAR and accelerating its social preparation towards autonomy.”

Incidentally, one of the challenges perused in the forum was the ASEAN integration.  With its timeline set in 2015, this transformation certainly encompasses socioeconomic and political implications on regional autonomy.

Dir. Sicat underscored that Cordillera has specialized needs and demands specialized actions, primarily to induce efficient and sufficient allocation of funds.  The Econ Secom, DOST, RDC, with their partners are very aggressive in disseminating information on prospective technologies to educate and ensure that local enterprises and the agriculture sector are prepared and will sustain a competitive market alongside other ASEAN Economic Community members, he said.

For one thing, privileges accompanying achievement of regional autonomy are still contingent upon changes in the political and economic landscapes shared with the country.

Nevertheless, CAR RDC reformed some of its IEC campaign strategies to enhance the effectivity of information dissemination especially to the hinterlands.  Mr. Bugaling, RDC PSR, highlighted the mantra ‘Let’s go sectoral’, which is an endeavor undertaken by the RDC and its partners to accelerate the achievement of autonomy before the President steps down in 2016.

Dir. Rimando said forums were conducted through the RDC’s partnership with the Department of Education and Commission on Human Rights.  The forums allowed the elucidation of regional autonomy concepts and principles to teachers, students and the youth, she added.

In line with this year’s success, such as the branding of IEC materials, the CAR RDC assured the unabated IEC campaign efforts targetting key sectors particularly religious groups and the business sector.  Dir. Rimando also mentioned there are efforts to conduct an annual Pulse Survey to fastrack CAR’s attainment of autonomy.  (Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR)