Knowing CAR’s Regional Development Council

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, December 9, 2013


WHILE we await the creation of an autonomous form of government for the Cordillera as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and after having dealt with a temporary body that is supposed to pave the way for a Cordillera Autonomous Region, we are temporarily being governed by a regional council just like all other regions in the country but in an administrative and not in a structure meant for the upland region.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) is the highest policy-making body in the region and serves as the counterpart of the NEDA Board at the sub-national level. According to www.cordillera.gov.ph, the RDC is the primary institution that coordinates and sets the direction of all economic and social development efforts in the region. It also serves as a forum where local efforts can be related and integrated with national development activities.

The RDC was created in answer to the need for a single regional planning body whose main concern is overall socio-economic development of the region. Regional development planning is necessary to address the uneven economic and social development in the country. This stems from the recognition that the economic and social gains achieved so far have been unevenly distributed such that much of the progress has been concentrated in a few regions.

History dictates that the RDC was established by virtue of Letter of Implementation No. 22 issued on 31 December 1972 pursuant to the Integrated Reorganization Plan of 1972. Its present constitutional foundation rests on Article X, Section 14 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states that: "The President shall provide for the regional development councils, or other similar bodies composed of local government officials, regional heads of departments and other offices, and representatives from non-government organizations within the region for the purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of units therein and to accelerate the economic and social development of the units in the region.”

To carry out this provision, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order 308 on 05 November 1987 which reorganized the RDC. On 12 April 1996, the foregoing EOs were repealed with the issuance of EO 325 signed by President Fidel V. Ramos. This latest issuance further strengthened the RDCs to make it more responsive to new developments in socio-political fields and to ensure sustainable and broad-based development process.

On 30 July 2001 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued EO 30 entitled "Providing for a Regional Development Council in the Cordillera Administrative Region and For Other Purposes". This is to respond to the vacuum in regional development coordination in the CAR with the deactivation of the Cordillera Bodies under EO 220.

In a report posted by Shah Balaw-ing at the regional website being maintained by NEDA, CAR lawmakers accordingly are saying that a more extensive information, education and communication campaign on regional autonomy must be done prior to the conduct of a summit on the matter.

In a Leaders’ Forum last September 25, 2013 in Quezon City which was attended by all Cordillera lawmakers and 18 regional directors, Regional Development Council Vice Chairperson and National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Milagros Rimando presented the RDC proposal to hold a regional summit on Cordillera autonomy.

It was agreed during the forum that a massive IEC will be conducted first to ensure that the Cordillerans are properly consulted. Subsequently, a regional summit will be undertaken early next year to decide whether to adopt the House Bill 5595 as is then refile it, or to make amendments first then refile the bill. It is also expected that a resolution urging the CAR lawmakers to file the bill shall be passed in that regional summit.

Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan said that an IEC campaign targeting the grassroots is necessary to show whether a clamour for autonomy indeed exists. The CAR provincial governors should also be consulted, he added.

Cong. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang of Apayao affirmed that they should consider the sentiments of the people as regional autonomy will affect the lives of the present and the future generations of Cordillerans.

During the recent media powwow at the Palm Grove Resort in Asin, Tuba, Benguet, Ifugao Representative Teddy B. Baguilat Jr. said that Regional autonomy is for the people to decide adding that with the help of the media practitioners including information officers of regional line agencies and provincial local government units, the people can wisely decide on the issue. Meanwhile, we in the two cities and six provinces of CAR will have to look up to the RDC for developmental affairs of the region.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 10, 2013.

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