"KAYANEN tayo (We can do it)!"

These were the words of Ifugao representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr. as he facilitated the joint meeting of the Regional Development Council and the Cordillera Administrative Region representatives May 27 at the Yñiguez Hall to discuss the filing of a bill creating a Cordillera Autonomous Region.

The Cordillera solons convened the meeting, coordinated by National Economic and Development Authority (Neda-CAR), after they agreed to file the said bill on or before Congress will go on recess on June 11. The meeting formed a Technical Working Group comprised of the chiefs-of-staff of the CAR representatives, representatives of city and provincial government units, and representatives of the RDC who will integrate inputs to the working draft on regional autonomy.

The draft to be reviewed by the TWG is the same document filed in the previous 15th Congress but only went as far as the Committee on Local Government. From November 2013 to April 2014, the draft became the template in the RDC-led provincial, city, and sectoral consultations that culminated in the regional summit on regional autonomy in April 30. Various inputs including amendments were proposed during these consultations.

"Some of the inputs during the consultations may not be considered in the proposed bill but they are matters to be tackled by the Regional Assembly of the would-be Cordillera Autonomous Region," said Mountain Province representative Maximo Dalog.

"Our people must be made to understand that regional autonomy is a compromised undertaking with the national government," Dalog said.

Baguio City representative Nicasio Aliping emphasized the building of unity among the different sectors. He encouraged everyone to launch a massive campaign for autonomy while the bill is being discussed in Congress.

Kalinga representative Manuel Agyao supported the idea all provinces, municipalities, cities and the regional line agencies must post tarpaulins expressing their support for autonomy.

Prior to the said meeting, members of the RDC met with the legal staff of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III to discuss a counterpart bill in the senate. During the previous Congress, Pimentel championed Cordillera Autonomy by filing Senate Bill 3115, An Act to Establish the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

The staff of Senator Pimentel assured the RDC delegation that the latter is ready to again champion Cordillera Regional Autonomy in the House of Senate. (Press Released)