BAUKO, Mountain Province – The granting of autonomous status to the Cordillera by the national government is the only justification to rectify the historical injustice committed inits neglect of the region’s development in the past, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said here during the historic re-engagement forum organized by the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) Monday.
Domogan, who is the chairperson of the RDC and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), revealed a perusal of the minutes of the Constitutional Convention (ConCon) that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution showed the framers of the fundamental law of the land recognized the fact that the national government neglected the development of Mindanao and the Cordillera in the past several decades and the ultimate justification for it to correct this historical injustice to the two regions is to grant the said geographic areas autonomous status.
“The mere fact that the national government admitted the neglect of Mindanao and the Cordillera in terms of development in the past should be one of the unifying factors why the Cordillerans should aggressively grab the opportunity to establish its permanent identity as a legitimate region that will translate to progress for all once Cordillerans will be empowered to govern themselves in an autonomous set up,” Domogan stressed.
The Baguio chief executive underscored that achieving autonomy will not be for the present generation of Cordillerans but for the benefit of future generations who reap the fruits of the region’s overall development as a result of the devolution of most of the functions of the national government to the autonomous regional government in the future.
According to him, most of the existing policies of the national government run counter to the actual situation in the region thus the struggle for self-governance to allow the autonomous regional government to craft the appropriate programs and projects suitable to the actual situation on the ground.
He cited, as an example, the priority of the agriculture department is for the aggressive promotion of rice and corn but for the Cordillera, the relevant commercial agricultural crops being produced are high-value crops and highland vegetables, except for some low-lying areas in Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Abra, and Apayao.
He added the construction of mountain roads is far more expensive than the building of roads in the lowland communities, thus, standards in the lowlands should not be applied in the Cordillera which is characterized by its mountainous terrain thereby needing additional features such as proper drainage systems and slope protection walls.
Domogan pointed out the snowballing support of various sectors to the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy will definitely chart the real future developmental thrust of the region and it will definitely give justice to the sacrifices of those who have fought for the protection of the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples from being trampled upon by multinational companies in the guise of bringing development that significantly affects the state of the environment, resulting in the displacement of indigenous peoples from their domain, among others. /By Dexter A. See