Cordillera elders back bid for autonomy

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -– For at least 162 elders coming from the six provinces of the Cordillera Region and Baguio City, the only path towards genuine development for the region is through autonomy.

This, the elders reiterated on Wednesday, August 31, after they met at the Benguet State University (BSU) to discuss the difference between autonomy and federalism during the Cordillera Elders’ Workshop which commenced on August 29.

According to Samuel Anongos, coordinator for the Cordillera Elders’ Alliance (CEA), the elders were one in calling for a more aggressive grassroots information campaign in order to popularize the autonomy setup among the youth of the Cordillera Region.

“It has been a long time and we have been talking about autonomy since we were young, and now that we are already old, we are still talking about it.”

Anongos said and elder from the Province of Apayao asked, “will still there be a time when we can see the fulfilment of this quest in our lifetime?”

They also reiterated the need for more consultations with all stakeholders in order to discover the root causes of poverty in the region.

The elders called on the Cordillera congressmen not to refile House Bill 4649, or the proposal to create the autonomous region, because it does not truly contain the aspirations of “Cordillera People” on how they want the autonomous government should be run.

“The elders stated the bill does not embody the substance of genuine recognition of the collective rights of the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples over their ancestral lands and right to self-determination,” Anongos said. Sam Bautista/PNA/