Monday, September 24, 2018

Balweg: What is the CAR now?

Snapshot Focus

NOW that another anniversary month of it has come around again, it is interesting to think of how many percent of Cordillerans know what the CAR is and what it is all about. The question is directed as a challenge to students of Philippine history, especially to those in CAR itself. It is doubtful if the curricular offering of the national educational system pays serious attention to its import at all.

To cut matters short, first of all, CAR (all letters capitalized) stands for Cordillera Administrative Region. And it is exactly that, a region, i.e., territory and people, called Cordillera that is governed by a special administrative setup.

Unlike the regular regions composed of the NCR (National Capital Region) and those numbered from 1 to 13, the CAR is a special one created by a special law, now popularly known as EO (Executive Order) 220.

This EO 220 was issued by the Philippine President when the executive and legislative powers were still both vested in the presidency and therefore had the force of law like the PDs (Presidential Orders) during the Martial Law regime when there was no Philippine congress yet.

They became part of the law of the land. The CAR territorially comprised the provinces of Abra, Kalinga-Apayao (later separated into the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao), Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet, and the Chartered City of Baguio. {Present Tabuk is still a component city considered one with Kalinga Province.) The EO was issued pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Good for Cordillera, the timing of EO 220 simplified the otherwise tedious process in a regular congressional forum. It was thus a step to provide an enabling law for the practice of autonomous governance for the Cordillera. The said EO was done in the process to give autonomy to the Cordillera region pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, particularly Section 1, article X, namely, that there shall be an autonomous region in the Cordilleras. The same EO 220 was signed by the President in the City of Manila, on the 15th day of July in the year 1987.

The CAR has the following purposes: (a) Administer the affairs of government in the CAR, (b) Accelerate the economic and social growth and development in it units, (c) Prepare for the establishment of the autonomous region. Scope of authority and responsibility covers: a) Regional administrative system; (b) Economic, social and cultural development;

(c) Agricultural, commercial, and industrial development and promotion of tourism; (d) Infrastructural development; (e) Urban and rural development, protection of ancestral domain and land reform;

(f) Regional educational system, including the establishment and maintenance of policies to cultivate the indigenous Cordillera cultures and inculcate traditional values; (g) Health, sports, welfare and social services;

(h) Development of indigenous laws and political institutions, particularly those of direct democracy and collective leadership, the promotion of indigenous institutions and processes for conflict resolutions and dispute settlement; (i) Preservation and enhancement of indigenous customs, traditions, languages and cultures; (j) Strengthening of the bodong system of tribal unity and cooperation;

(k) Protection and preservation of the cultural identity, values, mores and norms of the various ethno-linguistic groups; (l) Promotion of social justice and protection of human rights, particularly the rights of women, children, the elderly and disadvantaged groups and the rights of people’s organizations; and (m) such others as may be authorized by law or delegated by the President for the general welfare.

As to peace and regional security, they are a major concern of the CAR. A regional security force is supposed to be organized to assist, as has always been tried, in the defense and security of the region subject to guidelines issued by the President.

The structure of the CAR governance body consists of the Cordillera Regional Assembly and the Cordillera Executive Board. The CRA is the policy-formulating body to articulate and harmonize the interests and aspirations of the Cordillerans. It is headed by a Chairman appointed by the President from among the members. This Chairman is the titular head of the CAR.

The Assembly convenes once every year for a five-day regular session starting on the 25th day of April. Special sessions may be called as may be necessary by the Chairman or upon the initiative of the majority of the members.

The decisions of the Assembly “shall be” implemented by the Cordillera Executive Board, the implementing arm of the CAR.

To be continued.

CP no. 09562830787