ConCom member urges Cordillera leaders to continue bid for autonomy

By Liza Agoot

June 26, 2018, 7:12 pm

<p><strong>AUTONOMY BID.</strong> Constitutional Committee (ConCom) Commissioners Dr. Virgilio Bautista (left) and Professor Eddie Alih (right) discuss in a press conference in Baguio City on Monday (June 25, 2018) the provisions for the creation of autonomous regions in Mindanao and the Cordillera. The commissioners assured the autonomous regions would be part of the draft Constitution they are set to submit to President Rodrigo Duterte in July. <em>(Photo by Liza T. Agoot)</em></p>

AUTONOMY BID. Constitutional Committee (ConCom) Commissioners Dr. Virgilio Bautista (left) and Professor Eddie Alih (right) discuss in a press conference in Baguio City on Monday (June 25, 2018) the provisions for the creation of autonomous regions in Mindanao and the Cordillera. The commissioners assured the autonomous regions would be part of the draft Constitution they are set to submit to President Rodrigo Duterte in July. (Photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY -- A member of the Consultative Committee reviewing the constitution has encouraged leaders of the Cordillera, through the Regional Development Council (RDC), to continue their efforts towards autonomy.

“It is very beneficial for the Cordillera if it continues to pursue its autonomy, same thing with the Bangsamoro,” ConCom member Dr. Virgilio Bautista, a former chairman of the Cordillera RDC, said at a press conference on Monday.

The 1987 Constitution provides that there would be autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao, which the ConCom assured will continue to be in the Constitution being drafted.

The same assurance was given by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during his recent visit in Bontoc, Mountain Province early this month.

Bautista urged the RDC to continue with their efforts to get the autonomous region status, as the ConCom is set to hand its draft Constitution to President Rodrigo Duterte in early July.

The draft will then be transmitted to the Congress, which will convene as a constituent assembly to review the ConCom draft and adopt the proposed revisions to the constitution. The revisions will then be submitted to a plebiscite by the Filipino electorate.

“It's just that we have to be realistic, whichever comes first, the objective is the same. Federalism is self-governance, the power will come from the region rather than the central office,” Bautista said.

Bautista said that in the draft Constitution that the ConCom has created, “the federated region of the Cordillera shall include the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Baguio City, and the component city of Tabuk.”

“All our provinces and two cities are recognized in the Constitution,” he added.

Bautista said the Cordillera autonomy would be “constitutionalized”, further protecting it and strengthening the region’s bid.

Cordillera at present remains an administrative region, pending the approval of an organic act in Congress, and a similar bill at the Senate authored by Senator Miguel Zubiri, creating an autonomous region in the uplands.

The BBL, however, is now in the bicameral committee of the two houses, and is expected to be acted on before the 17th Congress goes on recess.

Commissioner Eddie Alih, who is from Mindanao, said that in the draft Constitution that they would transmit to the President, the Cordillera and the Bangsamoro are provided with specific characters.

“There are provisions specific for Bangsamoro and another specific for Cordillera," Alih said.

Cordillera has been banking on the passage of the BBL in Congress, as both clamors are anchored on only one provision of the Constitution, which is hoped to be achieved under the present administration. (PNA)

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