By Debbie E. Gasingan, Philippine Information Agency


BAGUIO CITY (PIA) -- Baguio City Representative Mark Go expressed confidence that House Bill (HB) 3267 or An Act Establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region will be approved in the Congress before their scheduled recess.


Go reported during the roundtable discussion on the developments in the legislation of the said bill that the Committee on Appropriations is expected to approve the bill in the next two to three weeks. Prior to the meeting with said committee, they are setting a meeting with the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management to know their stand on the financial provision of the particular measure.


The Committee on Local Government and Committee on Ways and Means already approved the bill which was refiled by Cordillera lawmakers in August last year.


Upon approval by the Committee on Appropriations, the bill will be presented in the Committee on Rules before it will undergo plenary discussion in the House. Once approved, it will be submitted in the Senate by March or April.


Go said that the very critical part is the conduct of the plebiscite  90 days after the final approval of the bill.


"We need to plan to ensure that not only Baguio will vote favorably but the entire Cordillera," he underlined.


The lawmaker also stressed that the passage of the bill is  not only for the people to exercise their democratic rights within the autonomous region but to ensure that this will improve the quality of life in the Cordillera.


"We don't like to simply have another bureaucracy that will not address 'yung quality of life of our people. 'Yung poverty ma-address natin, 'yung quality of education, the social services should be provided well than what we have right now in the Cordillera," Go said.


Meanwhile, Kalinga Representative Allen Jesse Mangaoang appealed to the local government units with the civil society organizations to fastrack the manifesto of support that Cordillera leaders will bring with them when they go to Malacañang.


"Kung nakuha natin ang manifestation of support ng all the provinces that could be used as our bargaining power when we will be able to link with Malacañang ... in order for leaders of Cordillera to go there and say, 'this is the manifestation of support from the people of Cordillera that we are really into our autonomy'," he stated.


During the roundtable, National Economic and Development Authority-Cordillera Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen and Bismarck Soliba from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity also gave updates on the current plans for Cordillera autonomy.


There was also an  open forum  where representatives of different sectors expressed their concerns and queries in relation to the House bill.


Initiated by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Philippines, roundtable aimed to provide updated information on the status, challenges, and prospects for the passage of the organic law for the Cordillera with the end in view of strengthening the role of civil society in promoting autonomy in the region.


The activity was attended by representatives from different government agencies, provincial local government units, and civil society organizations. (JDP/DEG-PIA CAR)