BAGUIO CITY – The Regional Development Council through NEDA-CAR conducted the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Technical Working Group on the review of the proposed Cordillera Organic Act, House Bill 5343, on March 12, 2019. Atty. Mohammad Jamalul Giducos of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) presented the highlights of the BOL. Prosecutor Leilene Carantes-Gallardo who helped draft HB 5343 presented the comparison of the BOL with the Cordillera’s own proposed organic act.
Atty. Giducos presented the salient features of the Bangsamoro Organic Law such as the block grant amounting to 5% of the national revenue and the integration of former combatants into the PNP. He also shared some strategies in getting the legislation passed in Congress. Giducos emphasized that the BTC was crucial in spearheading the passage of the bill. “With our congressmen having their own priority bills, the BTC really helped in pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law”, Giducos said.
Later, Pros. Carantes-Gallardo led the review of the HB 5343 to better enhance the bill. A major difference between the Bangsamoro Organic Law and proposed Cordillera Organic Act is the definition of its citizens. “Bangsamoro” is defined as the descendants of the original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago while a “Cordilleran” is defined as any Filipino citizen who is domiciled in the Cordillera. Carantes-Gallardo noted the desire of the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples’ Legislative Assembly (IPLA) last December to expand the definition of “Cordilleran” to emphasize the various indigenous peoples in the region while also including other members of ethno-linguisitic groups who have made Cordillera their home.
Several other matters were discussed such as the effectiveness of IEC in Cotabato City and devolution of powers specified in the BOL. The meeting ended with plans to further improve the bill based on the insights of Giducos who also committed to return for other Technical Working Group (TWG) sessions. The group also agreed to determine permanent members of the TWG to provide stability and consistency in future drafting sessions. The final draft is expected to be completed and turned over to the next set of Cordillera Congressmen for the 18th Congress in July.