Cordillera autonomy bill set for committee hearing Aug. 14: GMA

BAGUIO CITY — The hearing on the Cordillera region’s autonomy bill has been set by the House of Representatives’ local government committee on Aug. 14, Regional Development Council (RDC) chairman and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan here Wednesday.

Domogan said this was relayed to him by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, when he paid her a courtesy call on Aug. 6, the day President Rodrigo Duterte had a ceremonial signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in Malacañang.

He said he came to ask for Arroyo’s help in pushing for Cordillera’s autonomy bid.

“Pinarating natin sa kanya bakit nandyan tayo maliban sa ating courtesy call sa kanya. Sabi niya nai-kalendaryo na for committee yung bill (We told her why we were there aside from giving her a courtesy call. She said the autonomy bill was already calendared in the committee). We hope that we will be in full force on Aug. 14 at the Lower House,” he told the media during a late-afternoon press briefing.

Domogan said members of the Cordillera RDC would also visit Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya, who schedules bills for deliberation in the plenary.

He added they would visit the Senate on Aug. 10 to see the status of the counterpart bill there, Senate Bill No. 1678.
“It is going on and it is moving,” Domogan said of the efforts to push for Cordillera’s autonomy.

On July 30-31, the RDC’s committee on Social Preparation of the Cordillera Administrative Region held a forum to drumbeat the call for autonomy through the passage of the two pending bills, House Bill 5343 and Senate Bill 1678.

The RDC chairman said they intend to take a closer look at the BOL, which was passed using Section 15 of Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution, and make it the same basis for Cordillera’s autonomy.

“Kung ano ang provisions sa BOL na approved by Congress, i-cull out na natin, ilagay natin as part of our autonomy bill. Siguro hindi sila maka-angal sa atin kasi in-approve naman na nila (Whatever provisions of the BOL that were approved by Congress, we could cull those to form part of our autonomy bill. Perhaps, they won’t complain anymore, since they have already approved those),” Domogan explained.

He said the Cordillera RDC is rushing the autonomy bill’s approval, hoping to get President Rodrigo Duterte declare it as a priority legislative agenda.

The RDC is also waiting for a schedule to meet with the President for this purpose.

In July 2017, Cordillera leaders visited Duterte, who committed to give the Bangsamoro and Cordillera autonomy bids the same treatment.

On Sept. 13, the Cordillera region will commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Mount Data accord, locally called the “Mt. Data Sipat”, between the late president Corazon Aquino and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, led by rebel priest Conrado Balweg.
The agreement led to the issuance of Executive Order 220, creating the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), in preparation for the region’s eventual self-determination.

The agreement also led to the inclusion of Section 15, Article 10 in the 1987 Constitution, which says, “There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera”.