BAGUIO CITY – “We want this [Cordillera Autonomy Organic Act] approved this 18th Congress”, Congressman Mark Go of Baguio City stressed, as the keynote speaker, during the SPCAR Partners’ Assembly on April 13, 2021.
Congressman Go underscored the need to review the provisions of House Bills 5687 and 7778 which both aim for the establishment of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC), to consolidate the two bills and to come up with a substitute bill that encompasses the needs and interests of Cordillerans. In the March 18, 2021 technical working group (TWG) meeting convened by Congressmen Go and Dalog, invited resource persons and legal experts from the central offices of DILG, DOF, CSC and the line agencies in the Cordillera raised some issues and concerns on some of the provisions of the bill, and these were discussed with the participants of the assembly.
One issue raised was the definition of the term Cordilleran which the present bills define as all those citizens of the Philippines who are residents for at least one year within the ARC. The participants reiterated the need for an inclusive definition, as was defined in the previous autonomy bill, HB 5343, where the term Cordilleran shall apply to all citizens of the Philippines who are domiciled within the territory of the ARC.
Congressman Go suggested that he will again convene the House Committee on Local Government TWG by end of April to finish the discussions on the provisions of the bills. He then assured that the substitute bill will be deliberated and approved in the House of Representatives the soonest possible time.
Further, NEDA-CAR OIC Regional Director and RDC-CAR Acting Vice Chair Stephanie Christiansen highlighted the contributions and accomplishments of the agency in advancing the autonomy bill in 2020. This includes advocacy on the autonomy bills at the national level which resulted in the inclusion of the autonomy bills in the tentative list of the priority bills under the Security, Justice and Peace Cluster of the Legislative Liaison System. This 2021, the RDC will continue to support and work with the CAR Congressmen for the passage of the autonomy bill.