Cordillera can survive as an autonomous region

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan is confident that the Cordillera can survive as an autonomous region once the national government will grant the funding support that is it is currently enjoying under its administrative status aside from the subsidy and share of the taxes prescribed under the pending autonomy bill.

Currently, the city chief executive revealed that the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is operating on a conservative estimate of over P52 billion based on the budget allocation of the different line agencies which is pegged at P28 billion, the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of all local governments which amount to P14.6 billion and more than P10 billion in internally generated revenues by the concerned local governments.

Under the pertinent provisions of House Bill (HB) 5343 that seeks to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera, the CAR wants a share from the various taxes being collected by the national government estimated to be at least P17 billion annually plus the annual subsidy of P10 billion for the first five years and P5 billion for the succeeding five years or a total of P75 billion in ten years apart from the provisions on the continuing support by the national government to the regional government after the lapse of the subsidy period.

Of the annual subsidy, the proposed bill provides a sharing scheme to avoid the politicization of the allocation of the funds with 20 percent to be directly remitted to the autonomous regional government, 2 percent to the existing component city and 6 percent as reserve fund. Of the 74 percent balance from the subsidy, 40 percent will be equally divided by the 1,173 barangays, 35 percent will be divided among the 75 municipalities and the remaining 23 percent will be divided among the 6 provinces and the chartered City of Baguio.

Domogan explained that under the proposed autonomy bill, the regional line agencies will remain in the structure and that their proposed budgets will only serve as an attachment of the budget of the autonomous government so that when approved, the funds will be downloaded to the concerned agencies for implementation without interference from the regional government considering that their priority projects have been already in consultation with the regional government and pursuant to the approved regional development plan.

He explained the set up of the autonomous regional government in the Cordillera is simply a share in the devolved powers of the national government unlike the set up of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where the regional line agencies were abolished and the programs of government were solely left with the regional government.

Another salient provision of the proposed autonomy bill, according to Domogan, is the fact that the share of host communities from the national wealth tax being paid by developers of the region’s rich resources will be directly remitted to the concerned local governments aside from the fact that corporations doing business in the region should pay their taxes to the host localities and not to their Manila-based central offices.

Further, he claimed permits for the operation of hydro power plants, water rights and mining will be issued by the regional government provided that the affected indigenous peoples shall have issued their consent for the said environmentally-critical projects pursuant to the provisions of or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. /By Dexter A. See


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