Autonomy IEC still on

BAGUIO CITY – The push for an autonomous cordillera region goes on, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said, as with efforts for Mindanao’s Bangsamoro peace process.

The pronouncement was made during the Kapihan Sa Baguio roundtable dialogue on the Bangsamoro peace process and cordillera autonomy, March 9, at Lopez Hall, Philippine Military Academy, Fort del Pilar. Participants in the dialogue include PMA officers and cadets, representatives from the national line agencies, offices and the academe.

The mayor spoke of a 5-point agenda for Cordillera autonomy: a regional identity with the unique culture, tradition and heritage worth preserving to be made permanent and the definition of a Cordilleran; the usual government set-up, thus no diminution of existing powers as to the local government code; no displacement of existing employees and officials; a subsidy for socio-economic infrastructure to catch up with other regions; and financial sustainability to be provided after the period of subsidy.

Maguindanao-born Efren Elbanbuena, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Regional Director, Region 11 said issues on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) were discussed in other key areas in the country, with Baguio as a North Luzon venue. A multi-sectoral interaction during the information and education campaign is encouraged, he said.

Mindanews Editor-in-Chief Carolyn Arguillas cited the peace process for 27 provinces, 33 cities and 6 regions as needed to make Mindanao a “paradise” to 21M multi-cultural individuals. Despite the negative notions as to Mindanao, it possesses rich and enviable natural resources.

It took 40 years of peace process and 36 years of autonomy experiment for 5 provinces and 2 cities of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), she said. The inauguration of the BBL law should be forthcoming, she added.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Chair of the Government Peace Panel posed questions on the solution of social justice problems, related the peace process story to the on-going cease fire and the cultural inequities of the indigenous peoples.

Ferrer said the poorest provinces of the country are in Mindanao where basic needs or human development indicators are lacking. Sustainable peace could address said problems, she added.

Chair, MILF Peace Panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Committee Mohagher Iqbal, in his first time to visit Baguio, specifically the Philippine Military Academy, brought with him a plea for the pursuance of the peace path. As the formal negotiation ended, there is a need to enact the BBL, he said. If good prevails, Mindanao improves, he further said.

An open forum between the panelists and the cadets allowed for assurances and a plea for the peace process.

PMA superintendent MGen Donato San Juan,Jr., who welcomed the delegates expressed the need for sincere words on issues for lasting peace. This is a historical opportunity where we should move forward, he said, “we can be united, prosperous and peaceful,” thus our perspective and decisions should focus on the future, without barriers.

Marcos Mordeno, Mindanews chair and Ferrer spoke of Mindanao as the home of gracious people with a colorful culture who are tired of war. We need to end the war and sustain the gains of the peace process, they said.

A presentation of books on the peace process followed the forum, at the same venue./Julie G. Fianza


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