BAGUIO CITY – President Rodrigo R. Duterte certified House Bill (HB) 5343, the bill seeking the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera, as an urgent administration measure alongside the proposed enhanced Bangsamoro autonomous region bill for appropriate action by the members of the 17th Congress.
Speaking before more than 120 Cordillera leaders who attended the meeting with him Tuesday night at the Malacanang Palace, the President recognized the need to devolve more powers of the national government to the local government units, including the autonomous regions to be established, greater control of resources by the host communities, and the implementation of more development projects in the countryside to ensure that the people will reap the fruits of genuine development and not be left behind in their growth and development.
However, he said the control and supervision of one armed forces and the police will remain with the national government to avoid serious repercussions to the overall security of the archipelago from internal and external forces.
Further, President Duterte assured the Cordillera leaders he will allocate 2 slots for the region in the composition of the consultative commission he will be creating for the charter change that will pave the way for the shift from the existing unitary form to a federal form.
The meeting of Cordillera leaders with the President was worked out by officials and members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera through the persistence of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza that the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill be included in matters to be certified by the President as urgent for the appropriate action of Congress.
Present during the meeting with the President were Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, Benguet Rep. M. Cosalan, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, and Kalinga Rep. and Mountain Province Caretaker Allen Jesse Mangaoang, Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso, Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr., Ifugao Gov. Pedro Mayam-o, Kalinga Acting Gov. James Edubba, Baguio City Mayor and RDC-CAR chairman Mauricio G. Domogan, Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban, Abra Vice Governor and Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) Chairman Ronald Balao-as, Apayao Vice Gov. Remy Albano, Benguet Vice Gov. Florence Tingbaoen, Mountain Province Vice Gov. Francis Tauli, Ifugao Vice Gov. Jordan Gollitiw and Kalinga Acting Vice Gov. Shirlynne D. Alunday, most municipal mayors and representatives from civil society groups and the CPLA.
Mayor Domogan presented the issues and concerns needing the intervention of the President and emphasized the need for the certification of HB 5343 as an urgent administration measure while expressing the individual and collective gratitude of the Cordillera leaders for giving them time to meet with him and assure him that the Cordillera leaders are now unified for the region’s renewed quest for autonomy. /By Dexter A. See