QUEZON CITY– Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero believes that autonomy in the Cordillera should be passed since self-governance could significantly contribute in spurring the economic growth in the remote villages that would uplift the living condition of the people.
Escudero was the guest of honor and speaker during the first national conference on the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera which was organized by the Regional Development Council – Cordillera Administrative Region (RDC-CAR) held in Novotel in Quezon City on November 25.
Escudero asserted autonomy would be one of the major vehicles of the region to be able to clamor for greater control of the region’s resources in order for concerned local governments to be able to chart its overall socio-economic development.
“Importante at mahalaga, bigyan ng pansin sa pamamagitan ng tamang alokasyon ng budget ang Cordillera. At ang pag bibigay ng awtonomiya ay isang hakbang tungo sa direksyon iyan,” said Escudero.
According to Escudero the national government has always short changed the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in the allocation of the country’s meagre resources, especially in terms of infrastructure and agriculture development and Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) that impeded the supposed robust growth and development of the region.
“Sa kasalukuyan, ang budget po na natatanggap ng Cordillera Administrative Region, kabilang na ang lahat ng probinsya at siyudad diyan kabilang ang Baguio City ay isa’t kalahating sentimo lamang sa kada piso na ginagastos ng gobyerno – 1.5 centavos for every peso that government is spending. Kung titignan po natin labing-walong rehiyon po ang Pilipinas, dapat 5.5% at least kung pantay nating tatratuhin ang bawat rehiyon ang budget at pondong napupunta dapat sa Cordillera.Kung titignan natin ang kabuuang IRA na pinaghahatihatian. Nire-review na po ngayon ng sharing ng IRA. Humigit kumulang tatlong prosyento lamang po ng kabuuang IRA sa iba’t ibang lokal na pamahalaan sa Cordillera,” he added.
The former chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance pointed out the country’s 18 regions should get and equitable share of 5.5% of the budget in order to guarantee optimum development in the countryside which should be the focus of government.
Escudero challenged the next administration to prioritize the renewed pursuit for Cordillera autonomy as one of their priority legislations in order to give justice to the clamor of those who risked their lives in fighting for the inclusion of the constitutional provision for the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera and give the opportune chance for the region to develop as one of the most developed regions in the country.
For his part, Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, chairman of the RDC – Cordillera, said it is high time for the government to correct the injustices that it has been committing to the Cordillera by supporting the clamor for the renewed pursuit of regional autonomy which has been pinpointed as the ultimate solution in addressing the problems of the people in the countryside.
“We just have to sustain our unrelenting and uncompromising efforts towards enhancing the knowledge of our people in the grassroots level on the renewed quest for self-governance in order to significantly increase our awareness level on the issue for them to understand the true essence of autonomy,” Bersamin stressed.
Meanwhile, Cordillera lawmakers namely Baguio City Cong. Nicasio Aliping, Ifugao Cong. Teddy Baguilat and Mountain Province Cong. Maximo Dalog as well as Abra Gov. Bersamin and Ifugao Gov. Denis Habawel expressed optimism as they declared to continue to pursue the regional autonomy in the next congress and after the local and national elections during the one-day national conference./JDP/RMC- PIA CAR