PRESIDENTIAL Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is likely to certify House Bill 5343 as urgent.
The bill is titled “An Act Establishing Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC).”
Dureza, who attended the Baguio leg of the Cordillera Unity Gong relay on Friday, said the President was willing to meet with local leaders on Tuesday, July 18.
“I asked the president not to leave the Cordilleras behind and he is willing to meet the group on Tuesday (July 18) so you, the leaders, can express the desires of the Cordillerans,” said Dureza.
He lauded the seven lawmakers from the region, who have set aside their differences and worked together for the bill.
Dureza emphasized the importance of unity, not only among the officials, but also among the public. He stressed that the public must understand why they should support autonomy for the region.
If the bill is approved, Dureza said government officials must not be complacent.
“Don’t think that there is magic and that everything will be well and good. The bigger challenge will be how to run an autonomous region and how to meet the expectations of people,” he said.
Dureza added the road to peace “is not a paved road,” that’s why he encouraged everyone to move forward and keep the course towards autonomy.
For championing the Cordillera's dream of autonomy and his efforts to achieve peace and development in the region, Dureza was adopted by the region as a son.
A certificate, kalasag (shield), tubai (spear), wanes (g-string) and gangsa were given to Dureza as part of the adoption rites during the Unity Gong Relay at the City Hall grounds.
Dureza was named “Mansapit,” which is a Kakana-ey term for peacemaker and savior.
The government official said being adopted by a region is very important to him, and that he hopes he deserves it. He said, however, that it is the government’s responsibility to help.
“Pag nasa gobyerno tayo, basic yun eh. You are even duty-bound to do what needs to be done. We have to do the best that we can,” said Dureza. (Arianne Jo Julaton/UP Baguio intern)