Cordillera lawmakers file new autonomy bill

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera congressmen have filed their version of the bill creating the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

On Monday, the seven Cordillera lawmakers filed House Bill No. 5687 at the House of Representatives with high hopes of its passing smoothly in Congress and by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the 18th Congress.

Representatives Joseph Sto. Nino Bernos of Abra, Elias Bulut Jr. of Apayao, Mark Go of Baguio City, Nestor Fongwan of Benguet, Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao, Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga and Maximo Dalog Jr. of Mountain Province filed the bill as one for the Cordillera.

The creation of an autonomous region in the Cordillera is mandated under the 1987 Constitution along side with the Muslim Mindanao and while Mindanao has already attained it even twice, it is yet to be realized in the Cordillera.

“In 2001, the Congress passed Republic Act No. 9054 to expand the territory and power of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. During the 17th Congress, Republic Act No. 11054, also known as the “Bangsamoro Organic Law” (BOL) was enacted to establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and abolish the ARMM. In early 2019, the BOL was ratified through a plebiscite, marking the transition from ARMM to BARMM. On the other hand, an autonomous region in the Cordillera has yet to be realized,” the bill’s explanatory note stated.

Bulut, a firm advocate of autonomy, believes that the attainment of the Cordillera autonomy would ensure that the much needed development of the region will be met and that the natural resources will be well managed by the Cordillerans.

“Our third shot for our quest for Regional Autonomy gained ground on December 2. Together with all Cordillera Congressmen, we filed House Bill No. 5687 seeking to fulfill a constitutional mandate of establishing a Cordillera Autonomous Region. May God Bless us in this continuing struggle,” Mangaoang said in a social media post.

“I am one with our Cordilleran Congressman brothers in affirming the distinct tradition and culture of the Cordillerans which predated even the written history of our country. I strongly believe that the eventual passage of this bill will be the first step in realizing our dream of a united, peaceful, prosperous and distinctively unique community that our forefathers dreamt us to be,” Bernos said in his social media page.

Cordillera Regional Development Council Vice Chairperson, NEDA-CAR Regional Milagros Rimando expressed gladness with the filing of the new bill to pursue Cordillera autonomy.

Rimando said that the Cordillera congressmen along side their technical working group composed of their chief of staffs worked hard to create the new bill on autonomy looking at the different sections and provisions of the new bill. The RDC TWG and the indigenous peoples leaders assembly also gave inputs.

As the lawmakers will be working with the Committee on Local Government in Congress for the processes, the RDC, she said, will continue its intensified Information Education and Communication campaigns on the pursuit of Cordillera autonomy. This time with the HB 5687 in the different areas in the Cordillera region particularly in the grassroots level to ensure that this time autonomy would be understood and be looked at as the most effective option to pursue sustainable development in the Cordillera region.

The Cordillera congressmen are expected to present the HB 5687 and its key concepts and salient features during the Multi Stakeholders Gathering for Cordillera Autonomy towards Federalism in Baguio City next week. (JDP/ RMC- PIA CAR)


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