Cordillerans back creation of Autonomous Region in Baguio public hearing

Published April 20, 2018, 3:59 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Francis Wakefield

Cordillerans rallied their support for the creation of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC) during the first public hearing initiated by the House of Representatives in Baguio City today.

Cordillera Administrative Region (Photo courtesy of Google Map)
Cordillera Administrative Region (Photo courtesy of Google Map)

“We strongly manifest our support for House Bill 5343 believing and recognizing that it is the most effective option to provide the region with sustainable development and to promote our cultural diversity,” barangay chairman Ferdinand Bucad said on behalf of the Liga ng mga Barangay Baguio City Chapter.

House Bill (HB) 5343 or “An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera” seeks genuine autonomy in the region in response to their clamor for self-determination.

Regional offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DoH), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DIlG) also voiced their “full and unconditional support” for the bill, describing it as the “realization of their long-cherished dream and aspiration to manage their own resources and to promote our cultural practices.”

Business and civil society organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Filipino Investors Society, and Igorota Foundation also expressed support for the bill.

In their opening remarks, Cordilleran Representatives Marquez Go, Allen Jesse Mangaoang and Ronald Cosalan jointly committed their best efforts in prioritizing the approval of the bill by the committee on local government before the end of the 17th Congress.

For his part, Baguio City Mayor and Regional Development Council chair Mauricio Domogan said it is both “an individual and collective obligation to make the people understand our need for regional autonomy.”

“Let us all continue to unite and work with our lawmakers for the realization of our clamor,” he said.

The draft bill, now with 19 articles, aims to guarantee the region’s financial capability without the diminution of their existing benefits and powers.

Among its salient points are: the continued existence of line agencies in support of their regional offices; payment of business taxes in the Cordillera region instead of the National Capital Region (NCR); an 80 percent-20 percent share of agency fees between ARC and NCR; and the continuous collection of their internal revenue allotment.