CRSF: Quest for Cordi Autonomy might still remain a quest if...-A A +A
By Benny Balweg
Friday, May 2, 2014
BASING its assessment on observation from the recently held Summit in Baguio City last April 30, 2014, the Cordillera Regional Security Force, Inc., foresees a negative result of a coming plebiscite to accept the supposed organic act that would govern the envisioned Cordillera Autonomous Region. That is, if we take the RDC drafted 3rd Organic Act as is to be voted on.
First of all, it seems the starting point was lost sight of and so the draft that was produced logically missed points held with vis-à-vis the purpose of going to autonomy. We are supposed to set up a specific autonomous region, the Cordillera Autonomous Region, not just any region.
What was the reason for the establishment of such an autonomous region?
The 1987 Philippine Constitution gives the very basic answer which mandates that autonomous regions shall be created in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao in geographical units and areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures and other relevant characteristics within the framework of the Philippine Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.
It is important to take note of the words distinctive characteristics. The leading characteristic that caught the attention of the national government was the existence in the Cordilleras of the bodong system of governance, including defense and security mechanism of the homeland. Adverting to this appreciated indigenous system, the President of the Philippines met with the representatives of the Cordillera Bodong Association/Administration (CBA) and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) on September 13, 1986 at historic Mount Data, Mt. Province, presided over the allasiw or exchange of peace tokens to signify cessation of hostilities, and acknowledged their aspiration for Cordillera autonomy. The whole affair was soon to be nomenclatured the Mt Data Sipat.
Without the struggle that reached its apex with the leadership of the CBA and the CPLA, the momentous event would not have taken place at all. So, the indigenous distinctive characteristics of governance and means of defense and security should not be taken lightly to the end of completely eliminating them in the provisions of the organic act establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region. The subsequent issuing of EO 220 that established the Cordillera Administrative Region (present CAR), specifically contains in Section 6 that... the restoration and maintenance of peace within the region shall be a major concern of the CAR. A regional security force shall be organized to assist in the defense and security of the region subject to guidelines issued for this purpose by the President … The defense and security of the region shall be a responsibility of the National Government.
Now the EO220, which incidentally has a legislative fiat because it was issued when the RP President had both legislative and executive powers (there was yet no batasan or congress), is supposed to afford practice in CAR in running itself autonomously to see if it can finally get the permanent identity of a full-blast autonomous region. CBA and CPLA consider these two distinctive characteristics, among others, in the EO that should be by all means retained in the final Organic Act to be passed in Congress and be the subject of a plebiscite in the CAR. It should be remembered that the aim of E220 is to bring about peace to hasten comprehensive development in Cordillera. “That peace should be assured in the manner Cordillerans know and understand,“ the wide-eyed CPLA youngsters concluded. The aging ones could only nod their heads in full agreement, as also some members of the Cordillera Regional Assembly of the Cordillera Administrative Region present.
When a late participant wanted to postpone adjournment by starting some unpleasant remarks against traditional politicians who are appearing to “run the show not recalling that it was traditional politics that provoked rebellion in the highlands and thought of autonomy as remedy,” he was motioned, “that we hope our submission of additional inut to the draft can still be admitted.”
The scheduled election of the BARP Foundation for eight (8) new members of its Board of Trustees to replace the outgoing ones has been advanced from July 26 to June 28 (last Saturday), 2014. This announcement came from the Office of President/CEO Federico A. Balanag.
The Cooperative Union of Baguio City (CUBC) has also made it known that its General Assembly for 2014 will be held on May 10 instead of the previously announced April 30. Calling the attention of prospective participants from its affiliates. Announce comes from CUBC Chairperson Engr. Susan Angaga.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 03, 2014.