Manifesto signed to pursue autonomy

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Sunday, May 4, 2014


CORDILLERA leaders led the signing of a manifesto strongly supporting the campaign for a Cordillera Autonomous Region and urging the region’s legislators to craft an organic act to make it a reality.

Officials who signed the document during the Regional Summit on Autonomy were Governors Elias Bulut Jr. of Apayao, Abra vice-governor Chari Bersamin, Benguet Governor Nestro Fongwan, Mt. Province Governor Leonard Mayaen, Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac and Ifugao Governor Dennis Habawel, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban.

The region’s lawmakers Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan, Baguio City Representative Nicasio Aliping Jr., Apayao Representative Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Mt. Province Representative Maximo Dalog, and Kalinga Representative Manuel Agyao, who are tasked to file the Organic Act for an autonomous region, were also present in the signing of the manifesto.

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Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. and Abra Representative Ma. Jocelyn Bernos were not present during the signing but are reportedly supportive of the bill.

The signing was done after discussions of several representatives from the six Cordillera provinces and two cities, private and civil society sectors who presented their pre-summit amendments and suggestions for the Organic Act.

Proposed amendments include provisions on economic sharing, terms of elected regional officials and representatives, composition of the governing council among other important components of the proposed Organic Act.

Banking on the recent signing of the Bangsamoro peace agreement, Cosalan said the bill must be carefully crafted with all sectors properly consulted on its third filing in the House of Representatives.

This, as he stressed the power sharing and revenues that will go to the region instead of the national government remain as uncomfortable topics for many House members.

But he said the whole region must rally behind the proposed Organic Act and their legislators or risk the bill being watered down in Congress.

The Benguet lawmaker also stressed the importance of an autonomy law that follows the constitution.

Domogan said the bill must be filed as soon as possible or even by the end of the year so that it will not overtaken by preparations for the 2016 presidential elections.

If the bill gets enacted, the city mayor said the plebiscite must be synchronized with the national elections on 2016 as it involves large funding.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 05, 2014.

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