BAGUIO CITY: The Regional Development Council reported on Sunday that the bid for Cordillera regional autonomy is gaining ground in the national scene.
RDC Vice Chairperson, National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Milagros Rimando, said that the recent activities conducted by the council in the national level are now bearing fruit as the Cordillera autonomy is now slowly becoming a national issue.
Rimando said that on March 31, the RDC met with the different national government agencies in the Roundtable Discussion on Cordillera Regional Autonomy at the Bahay Kalinaw of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
It was overwhelming since heads of national agencies, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors publicly stated their support to the bid for Cordillera autonomy. Some of the officials present were Cordillerans who were or are assigned to the national or central offices.
“The roundtable discussion resulted with officials from various government line agencies committing to support the move for Cordillera Autonomy,” said Rimando.
“While the grassroots level is increasing awareness with the various information, education and communication campaigns and activities in the different parts of the region, the national level is also increasing awareness with the activities being conducted such as the national forum,” she added.
The RDC aims to gather interest in the national level on the Cordillera autonomy for it to be popularized and have a national interest that would help the RDC and the Cordillerans in their bid to have an autonomous region.
Besides commitment from the heads of offices, line agencies also offered their technical assistance in refining House Bill 4649 particularly with the comments of the Department of Budget and Management with regards to the financial requirement and resources, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agrarian Reform on environment and land issues.
National Commission on Culture and the Arts Chairman Felipe De Leon together with the different attached agencies such as the National Museum, National Historical Commission and the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (Commission for the Filipino Language) also committed to support the Cordillera autonomy with the identification and preservation of the different historical and heritage sites, cultural practices and including the translation of the House Bill and other materials in Filipino and several dialects.
The RDC has been focusing on the three core messages of autonomy: enhanced Cordillera identity; responsive policies for the Cordillera; and progress for all.
Rimando said that the RDC took a huge step by conducting forums in the national level to drum up autonomy in the national level and at the same time gather support from the various stakeholders including the government agencies.
In November last year, the RDC conducted the “National Conference: a National Step to an Autonomous Cordillera” at the Novotel in Quezon City that was attended by RDC officials and members including Cordillera leaders. Keynote speaker was Senator Francis Escudero.
With the inputs from the recent forum, the RDC will call for several meetings with the different members, stakeholders and the Technical Working Group of the House Bill to look into the refinement of the steps being undertaken by the RDC toward the bid for regional autonomy.