Datuin backs Cordillera's quest for autonomy

BAGUIO CITY April 11 – A local legislators expressed his support to the renewed quest for regional autonomy of the Cordillera amidst the planned shift to federal form of government which is strongly being advocated by the present administration.

Councilor Elmer O. Datuin, chairman of the City Council Committee on Tourism, Special Events, Parks and Playgrounds, said now that the administration was successful in putting in place the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the Cordillera must take advantage of the enabling environment provided by the present administration in grabbing the opportunity to achieve autonomous status and complete the government's peace initiative in the north.

The alderman pointed out that the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao are the only regions in the country specifically mentioned in the provisions of the 1987 constitution that should establish the autonomous regions and the Cordillera must now strive to achieve autonomy on its third attempt to realize self-governance during the remaining years of the Duterte administration as this might be the last chance for the region to have a crack in establishing the autonomous regional government.

"We will support the Cordillera's continuous struggle to achieve autonomy like what we had been doing in bestowing our support to the planned shift to federal form of government through the proposed amendment of the charter. We must already work hard to achieve autonomy for the Cordillera to complete the government's peace initiatives in the north," Councilor Datuin stressed.

In 2016, the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera decided to embrace autonomy as its overarching agenda to trigger robust economic growth in the rural areas considering that autonomy has been viewed by experts as the only means by which poor Cordillerans will be moved out from the shackles of poverty, aside from spurring economic progress in the remote villages, providing for policies suitable to the region's situation and ensuring progress for all.

Currently, the RDC-CAR technical working group is incorporating all the suggestions and recommendations to further improve the existing provisions of House bill (HB) 5343, the bill authored by all Cordillera Congress representatives that seeks to establish the autonomous region in the Cordillera so that there will be an improved version of the Organic Act ready for filing by those who will be elected as Cordillera representatives in the upcoming 18th Congress.

The Cordillera first attempted to have an autonomous region with the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 6766 or the first organic act which was overwhelmingly rejected by the Cordillera people in a plebiscite on January 3, 1990, except for Ifugao that voted in favour, due to the alleged watering down of the provisions of the law by Congress that did not reflect the desire of the Cordillerans as embodied in the results of the regional consultations.

The second attempt to achieve autonomy was during the enactment of RA 8348 that was subjected to a plebiscite on March 7, 1998 but the same was again overwhelmingly rejected, except for Apayao that voted in favour, because of lack of material time for information dissemination although the contents of the law was acceptable to most people. By Dexter A. See

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