EVEN after two failed attempts, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan is still hopeful that the public would be open to embrace an autonomous set-up in the Cordillera.

The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) celebrated its 23rd year on Thursday.

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"I hope the 23rd anniversary will inspire everybody to support autonomy," he said.

Reacting to apprehensions that an autonomous set-up will be similar to that of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm), Domogan said CAR has an entirely different situation as its southern counterpart.

The mayor said the CAR autonomy set-up is anchored on five principles: more independence to manage natural resources; promote cultural heritage; continuous benefits from the National Government; continuous existence of National Government paid employees and offices; an estimate P75 billion government subsidy for the next ten years to be used for development of the region; and continuous funding from the National Government even after the ten-year period.

In 2008, the Regional Development Council (RDC) conducted a survey that showed that only few Cordillerans are familiar of the autonomy. The survey showed that they lack information about how autonomy would benefit them in terms of governance, solving boundary dispute, socio-economic interdependence, environmental protection, and cultural preservation, among others.

The RDC survey also showed that 64 percent of Cordillerans are generally unaware of the constitutional provision that created the CAR.

Out of the 2,800 respondents surveyed from October 2007 to January 2008, 40 percent said the region is not ready for autonomy. When asked how they would vote once a third plebiscite is called, 66 percent of the respondents said they are unsure, 19 percent said they are for autonomy, and 15 percent said they would not vote for autonomy.

In the same survey, 44 percent said it is necessary to gradually develop the region's capability to become autonomous. (Rimaliza Opiña)