• House fails on Cordillera autonomy bill

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    BAGUIO CITY: The third bid for Cordillera autonomy is dead in the 16th Congress but representatives of the region plan to resurrect it for the 17th session of the legislative branch government.

    Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. of Baguio City said the House Committee on Local Governments has approved the passage of House Bill No. 4649, or the Act Creating the Cordillera Autonomous Region, at the committee level paving the way for its endorsement to the plenary for second reading. The committee approved it last February 1 and Aliping was tasked to head the ad hoc committee to conduct public consultations.

    After seven consultations in the six provinces of the Cordillera and Baguio City, no objection to the draft was made.

    “The Ad hoc Committee received no objection, or major proposal to amend the proposed measure. In fact, those who attended the public consultations expressed their overwhelming support for the passage of the proposed measure. The committee is in receipt of several manifestos, resolutions coming from the local governments of the Cordilleras including non-government and peoples’ organizations, endorsing and supporting the proposed measure which was presented to them during the public hearings,” said Rep. Maximo Dalog of Mountain Province.

    Although the measure was not passed during the 16th Congress, Representatives Winston Castello of Quezon City and Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya both sympathized with the Cordillera congressmen and signified their interest of co-authoring the bill giving autonomy for the Cordillera with other lawmakers.

    Rep. Walden Bello of Akbayan party-list, who is running as an independent seeking a seat in the Senate in the upcoming polls, said autonomy for the Cordillera has been neglected by President Benigno Aquino 3rd since he was focused on the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law for Mindanao.

    “Given the chance to win this election, I will move for the approval of both the autonomous regions of Cordillera and in Mindanao. Otherwise we are violating the rights of the indigenous people in our country,” he added.

    THOM PICAÑA

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