Possible breakup of Cordillera in federalism looms

BAGUIO CITY –Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan warned of a possible breakup of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) once Congress, as a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution, will decide to delete the provisions that mandate the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao to suit the administration’s proposal to shift from the present presidential form to federal form of government.

The local chief executive reminded the potential breakup of the Cordillera is not a threat to those who are against the renewed quest for regional autonomy but it is a reality that can happen once a number of provinces will ratify the autonomy law once enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President and once the constitutional provisions mandating the establishment of autonomous regions will be deleted during the charter change.

“We do not intend to threaten anyone regarding the possible disintegration of our region in the future once the situation warrants it that is why it is high time for us to unite to achieve autonomy as this might be our last chance to do so amidst the administration’s planned shift to federal form of government within the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

He added that Cordillerans are lucky because President Duterte, through Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, is supportive of the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy unlike during the previous administration and Cordillerans must reciprocate the support by showing their interest in establishing the autonomous region in the Cordillera.

Domogan pointed out Cordillerans were actually treated as second-class citizens when some parts of the CAR were parts of Region I and II during the martial law regime and people do not want the problem to be repeated once the region will disintegrate if the autonomy law is rejected or once the renewed quest for regional autonomy will be overtaken by the planned shift to federal form in the future.

Republic Act 4695 or the Division Law divided the previous Mountain Province into four independent provinces namely, Bontoc that retained the old name of Mountain province, Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao and Benguet. However, when former President Ferdinand Marcos issued Batas Pambansa No. 1 or the decree that divided the country into regions, the Cordillera was again disintegrated wherein Benguet, Baguio city and Mountain Province went to Region I while Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao joined Region II.

After the signing of the September 13, 1986 historic Mount Data peace agreement, former President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 220 that reconfigured the Cordillera Administrative Region which brought back Abra, Benguet, Baguio city and Mountain Province from Region I and Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao from Region II to comprise the CAR. Later, the former Kalinga-Apayao area was divided into two independent provinces by virtue of Republic Act 7878. Under the provisions of House Bill 5343 or the bill that seeks to establish the autonomous region in the Cordillera, cities and provinces that will not vote in favour of the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera will revert back to their original regions allowing the cities and provinces that voted in favour of the autonomy law to compose the autonomous region in the Cordillera. / By Dexter A. See


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