Cordillerans urged to pursue real autonomy

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The quest for Cordillera Autonomy should be pushed by the people from the region, a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) official said.

Thirty-three years since the creation of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) by former President Corazon Aquino on 1987, the quest for autonomy should come within the people of Cordillera, NCIP commissioner for Ilocos Region and Cordillera Gaspar Cayat said.

“While it is true that president, our leaders support struggle it should come from the within, come from the mass, it should not come by dictation by other national leaders for us to have an autonomous government it should be our desire for self-determination. If they will support well and good but they should feel the pressure from within the people of Cordillera,” Cayat added.

During the celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), he cited Section 14 of the law mandating their office to aid the congressman and the different IP groups in CAR to push for autonomy in the Cordillera.

He added prior to the creation of the CAR, Executive Order 220 also created temporary bodies; the Cordillera Executive Board, Cordillera Regional Assembly, Cordillera Bodong Administration to help prepare the region to autonomy.

“The foundation of autonomy are the four bundles of rights - Rights to Ancestral Domains and lands, Self-governance and empowerment, Social justice and human rights and Cultural integrity,” he added.

Ibaloy elder Peter Cosalan added the Cordilleras are still fighting for autonomy.

“The Cordilleras which is dominantly IP region has been declared as an autonomous region according to constitution, except we in the Cordilleras have not yet accepted the charter which defines our procedures and governmental procedures,” Cosalan said adding basic powers of autonomy is the right to legislate over ancestral domain.

Cordillera region is composed of six provinces namely Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province including Baguio City.

Another draft by regional elders creating Cordillera Autonomous is being pushed after two previous organic acts were rejected.

The 1986 Philippine Constitution allows for the establishment of two autonomous regions in the Philippines, the Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras.


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