Issue of July 15, 2018
Mt. Province

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CAR leaders united in push for autonomy, appeals for unity
by Khim Russel Abalos with reports from Baguio PIO

AUTONOMY UNITY GONG RELAY -- This year’s unity gong relay, which aims to unify Cordillerans towards autonomy, has come full circle in Ifugao at the culmination of the 31st founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region. Earlier, officials led by Abra Vice Gov. Ronald Balao-as and Ifugao Gov. Pedro Mayam-o turned over the unity gong to the city of Baguio with Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Rep. Mark Go receiving the symbolic gong.
-- Ofelia Empian

Baguio officials led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Rep. Mark Go urged fellow Cordillerans to continue strengthening unity among the people during the unity gong relay towards autonomy at the City Hall grounds on Friday.

Domogan called for the various provinces to continue the call for autonomy even with the present administration’s proposal for a federal form of government. 

The unity gong relay that started and culminated in host province Ifugao is one of the highlights of the 31st founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region with the theme “CAR at 31: Regional autonomy towards good governance.”

Go said regional autonomy will promote unity because each stakeholder will have more access to government processes.

“Autonomy would foster more vibrant democratic governance for the region because it will allow the mechanisms to hear public opinion from all the tribes and non-tribes,” Go said.

This is in contrast to the fear that autonomy will give some ethnic groups an opportunity to dominate others.

From Ifugao, the symbolic gong was transported to Mountain Province on July 9, then to Kalinga on July 10. The gong then travelled to Apayao and Abra on July 11 and 12, respectively, before it reached Baguio on July and passed on to Benguet on the same day.

The gong was passed on from one province of the Cordillera to another where the local officials did the honors of beating the gong. The event is a symbolic gesture of unity of the different provinces and cities of the region.

The ceremony is done every year since 2012 in support of the region’s call for autonomy.

In Cordillera culture, the gong is usually played during special occasions. It  symbolizes unity in the community.

During the kick-off ceremony in Ifugao, Gov. Pedro G. Mayam-o said Ifugaos are already well informed about the real essence of autonomy, which the Cordillerans have been fighting for over three decades now.

Only Ifugao voted for self-rule in the first attempt for autonomy in1990, while Apayao was the only province that favored the same in the second attempt in 1998.

Mountain Province Acting Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. said Cordillerans are honored to be part of two regions in the country that were given the opportunity to become autonomous that is why now is the time to achieve autonomy.

Kalinga Rep.  Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang said that while there are challenges that confront the region’s renewed quest for autonomy, Cordillerans must continue advancing the achievement of autonomy vis-à-vis the administration’s plan to shift to federal form of government.

Kalinga Gov. Jocel C. Baac said achieving autonomy is giving justice to the supreme sacrifices of the region’s leaders, who fought for the preservation and protection of the region’s resources and ancestral domain from the abuses of multinational companies as well as ensuring the intact environment for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Apayao Gov. Elias C. Bulut, Jr. asserted that autonomy will be for the benefit of the present and future generations of Cordillerans because the youth will be the ones that will reap the fruits of growth and development once the autonomous region will be established.

Abra Gov. Maria Jocelyn V. Bernos said that autonomy will be the region’s driver for growth and development through decentralization of powers and resources to allow local governments to develop at their own pace using the prevailing situations to their advantage.

Benguet Gov. Crescencio C. Pacalso said concerned stakeholders in the region should work together so that the region will remain intact and all local governments in the region will have the chance to develop, allowing its people to enjoy the fruits of development and proper use of the region’s resources.

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