Issue of August 5, 2018
     
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CAR leaders to ‘make noise’, use BOL to push for autonomy
by PNA

Cordillera leaders have decided to “make a noise” and use the popularity of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in pushing for their region’s autonomy bid.

Regional Development Council secretary and National Economic Development Authority Assistant Regional Director Jedida Aquino said Cordillera officials have lined up various activities for August and September to get the attention of Malacañang and the two chambers of Congress and garner the support of national line agencies for the Cordillera’s long-sought self-determination or self-governance.

Aquino said they have to “catch up” with the BOL and anchor Cordillera autonomy bid on this.

One move the leaders are planning to do is to request President Rodrigo Duterte to declare the Cordillera autonomy bills pending in the Senate and the House of Representatives as priority and “urgent” bills.

These are House Bill 5343 and Senate Bill 1678, which both seek the establishment of an autonomous region of the Cordillera.

“The next two months will be very important because October will be the filing of candidacy for the next election,” Aquino said.

She said several activities have been lined up as part of the upstream effort to boost the authorities’ appreciation to the region’s clamor for autonomy.

Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Usec. Ryan Estevez urged the region’s leaders on July 30 to take advantage of the popularity of the BOL in pushing for the passage of the Cordillera organic act, which would transform it into an autonomous region.

“The timing of the advocacy is very critical,” Estevez said during a workshop with the RDC committee called Social Preparation of Cordillera Administrative Region (SPCAR).

“This is the right time for us to push for this bill kasi ‘pag lumampas na itong BOL na ito, I don’t think magiging interesting pa (ang autonomy).”

The Bangsamoro and the Cordillera’s clamor for autonomous status are anchored on Section 15 of Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution, which states, “There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic, and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty, as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Estevez briefed the SPCAR about the factors in lobbying for an advocacy.

He said knowing and getting champions in both chambers of Congress to push for the bill matter.

Dapat may influence and also the leaders. Do not just go lobbying, but also design activities that will influence the public officials, legislators, and supporters.”

Kailangan natin mag-ingay para mapansin tayo,” he told members of SPCAR.

On various occasions, Baguio Mayor and RDC chair Mauricio Domogan stressed that the signing of the BOL is beneficial to the Cordillera, as both regions’ clamor for self-determination is based on the same Constitutional provision.

Cordillera’s creation came about following a peace agreement, “the Mount Data Sipat,” between the government under the late president Corazon Aquino and rebel priest Conrado Balweg. The agreement led to the laying down of arms by the Cordillera’s armed groups.

 
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