La Trinidad, Benguet –

To engage students in critical issues in the region, the King’s College of the Philippines initiated an autonomy forum on January 30 in partnership with the Regional Development Council – CAR through NEDA.

More than 150 students and their teachers participated. Said forum was part of the school’s program of integrating discussions on relevant issues in the region under its Campus Journalism course.

Recognizing that the youth are critical stakeholders in the autonomy movement, similar endeavors were pursued by partner agencies of the RDC. In 2015, the Commission on Human Rights shepherded an information drive on regional autonomy and human rights in 15 SUCs.

Likewise, the RDC with a partner NGO was able to successfully conduct region-wide youth assemblies for regional autonomy from February to April 2015 reaching at least 1, 375 youth. The assemblies included discussions on the history of Cordillera autonomy, salient features of the proposed third organic act, three autonomy core messages, and other development issues of the region. Said project resulted to the 2016 Cordillera Youth Advocacy Plan on Autonomy.

The youth sector’s views on autonomy were also generated during the conduct of region-wide public consultations on House Bill No. 4649 or the proposed organic act in July 2015 led by the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Local Government.

What are the reasons behind the failures in the past plebiscites to ratify the proposed organic acts? If we become autonomous, is there a chance that the region will experience the same political unrest like that of Muslim Mindanao?How will power sharing be managed under an autonomous region?How will the wealth and resources be equitably shared under an autonomous region?What are our roles as youth in the realization of a Cordillera Autonomous Region? These questions capture their vibrant views and capacity to engage in the autonomy debate. A clamor for more consultations was also demanded from the RDC during these occasions.

The vital role of the youth is again emphasized during the RDC quarterly meeting held in December 2015 thus; DSWD Dir. Janet Armas proposed the integration of the autonomy info campaign in the conduct of the region-wide Youth Development Sessions under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Meanwhile, the RDC continues to link with various sectors to implement its info campaign and reach out to more youth and other Cordillerans through its Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) program.




by: Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR