Highlights and Notes on Executive Order 220

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By Benny Balweg

Snapshot Focus

Friday, July 11, 2014


ONE afternoon I was startled by the question posed to me by one whom I considered should be more knowledgeable than the ordinary man on the street about the CAR or Cordillera Administrative Region. “Apay adda pay la aya EO 220? Anya ngamin daydiay aya tatta?” he asked in Iloko although I know he could have more fluently said in English “Is EO 220 in still effect? What is it, by the way, at present?”

Intelligent questions from people who do not bother much about history-in-the-making of their region, I thought to myself; or they really do not have the time to read or listen, the kinder thought came, thus these highlights of the Executive Order 220 that established the Cordillera Administrative Region. The title, “Executive Order No. 220 creating a Cordillera Administrative Region, appropriating funds therefor, and for other purposes” gives us the legal name and purposes of the EO.

The “whereases” lay the legal basis upon which the power of the Order is founded and at once demarcated. There are ten of them, foremost of which are the first and the third. The first “whereas” brings to the fore the command of the 1987 Philippine Constitution under its Section 1, Article X that “there be created an autonomous region in the Cordillera...” The third highlights Section 6, Article XVIII of same Constitution, stating unequivocally that “the President has the power to continue to exercise legislative powers until the first Congress is convened”. (That power ended about two weeks later when the First Congress was convened, and naturally, the above mentioned EO could not be abrogated or amended thereafter without the act of Congress.)

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The second “whereas” spoke of the geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of the Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. This clearly states that the underlying aim of the Cordillera movement is to give a chance for the territory and its people to come more speedily in par with the Philippine mainstream groups, and not to separate from the Republic. The autonomy need not even be forever unless the same privilege is open to the other regions besides Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao serving to the advantage of the whole country.

The eighth “whereas” says that “the immediate creation of a Cordillera Administrative Region is a sound reasonable measure by which the peoples [taste] of peace and development and enjoy the benefits thereof. By this statement, it is meant that the CAR is supposed to be a period of practice in autonomous governance and living. If we pass, then we can say we are ripe for full blast autonomy. Now, how shall we measure if we are ready or not? And if not, why not? We shall just see how we performed and fared under the Administrative Region, that is, how we practiced the provisions contained in EO 220. If our score is at least positive 75%, then passing grade, ready; if below that, failed.

If the grade is failed, apply the proper action or recourse. Follow the EO 220 more faithfully as regards the administration of the affairs of the government in the region including the scope of authority and responsibility as well as its enumerated powers and functions; acceleration of the economic and social growth and development of the units of the region, and, thirdly, the preparation of the autonomous region as to territorial coverage and population, regional peace and security and the final structures of the autonomous regional government with a viable and credible budget support.

EO 220, by the way, was made at a time when we were apprehensive of the result of a plebiscite needed to pass an organic act for a through and through autonomous Cordillera region. So the provisions of the EO, although it was only for an administrative level in the meantime, were made to approximate a permanent autonomy we were aiming at. It was signed by then President Corazon C. Aquino, popularly known as “Cory” at Malacañang, Manila, on July 15, 1987, undeniably under the influence of a good rapport between her and an SVD priest from the Province of Abra. Actor Philip Salvador must know him, and so with those who gaze at the smiling photo of both (in Spanish “ambo”) at the entrance of historic Mt. Data Lodge in Mountain Province.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 12, 2014.

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