House Bill 5595 was the draft third Organic Act for the establishment of the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Thus, awareness of its provisions was the focus of the 2012 and 2013 Pulse Surveys. The House Bill, however, did not reach the final reading before the 15th Congress adjourned session.

In June 11, 2014, another draft third Organic Act was filed in Congress as House Bill 4649. It contains provisions almost similar to House Bill 5595 but with significant inputs from various sectors of the Cordillera society. The bottom line question remains whether the Cordillerans are fully aware and ready to make well-informed decisions if a plebiscite to ratify the third Organic Act will be conducted at hand.

In its effort to continuously assess the level of awareness of stakeholders and track the progress of the regional autonomy agenda, the Regional Development Council (RDC) – CAR commissioned the 2015 Pulse Survey on Regional Autonomy to MNadunop Development Studies, a non-government organization which specializes in research and development consultancy services.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) – CAR, as the RDC secretariat, formulated an eight-itemed questionnaire that highlights what stakeholders think about regional autonomy for the Cordillera rather than on what they know about the provisions of the Organic Act.

Unlike its predecessors, the 2015 Pulse Survey questionnaire includes open-ended questions that allow respondents to freely voice out their insights especially on the perceived readiness of the region to assume an autonomous status; but still, the questions were structured similar to the 2012 and 2013 Pulse Survey so that the results of the 2015 Pulse Survey will be comparable to those of past surveys.

The 2015 Pulse Survey will engage a total of 5,381 stakeholders in the 288 barangays of the six CAR provinces and Baguio City. Essentially, the respondents must be registered voters of a household.

It can be recalled that in the 2012 Pulse Survey, 53.1% were still not aware of the renewed move for Cordillera to become an autonomous region, while in 2013 it was pegged at 58.9%, both Abra and Ifugao contributing the highest percentages in the two years.

Further, it was revealed that 40.9% and 49.6%, in 2012 and 2013 respectively, don’t know how to respond to the question of whether the region is ready to assume an autonomous form of government. There also remain a high percentage of respondents who were undecided whether to favor the third Organic Act, anchored at 48.8% and 52.5% in the 2012 and 2013 Pulse Surveys.

Due to a setback in 2014 that stalled the implementation of the annual Pulse Survey, the RDC fast tracks the implementation of this year’s Pulse Survey to pinpoint areas in the region still not reached by the information campaign.

by Mark Allen Ponciano