Finally, the advocacy for Cordillera Autonomy goes national. On November 25, 2015, the Regional Development Council of the Cordillera Administrative Region (RDC-CAR) will be holding a National Conference on Cordillera Autonomy at the Novotel Manila, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. Around 350 officials of national government agencies, Congress and the Senate, the Judiciary, civil society organizations, executives of the business sector and the Cordillera leaders and elders will attend the National Conference.
The collective struggle for an Autonomous Cordillera has indeed come a long way. Since Philippine political independence in 1946, there have been several attempts by the Filipino government to integrate the Cordillera into the mainstream. The Commission on National Integration was established in 1957. In 1964, the Mountain Province Development Authority (patterned after the Tennessee Valley Authority) was established to facilitate development efforts in the region. By the 1970s, the Cordillera became a hotbed for foreign-funded infrastructure programs foremost of which were dams. The Cordillera peoples who continued to experience geographic and social dislocation opposed all these efforts. To suppress the local resistance, militarization in the region intensified.
Finally, in 1987, the Philippine constitution recognized the need for the establishment of autonomous regions in Mindanao and the Cordillera. Today, however, the Cordillera peoples still have to define the substance of that autonomy which would fully put to practice the Cordillera people’s vision of having control over their institutions, their economy and their affairs.
Dubbed “The National Conference: A National Step to an Autonomous Cordillera,” this year’s conference is thus deemed timely in bringing the advocacy to the national level, to engage the national bodies and forces in this meaningful cause with the hope of harnessing a wider support so that the common vision and dream of autonomy will come to fruition very soon. High profile speakers headlining this year’s conference include Abra Governor Eustaquio Bersamin, Chairman of the Cordillera Regional Development Council, Speaker of the House of Representtaives, Cong. Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Mayor Mauricio Domogan of Baguio City, Ifugao Congressman Teddy Baguilat and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Dr. Milagros Rimando.
The national conference specifically aims to engage national bodies and relevant sectors from other regions to rally behind their advocacy and help come up with realistic measures toward the passage of a pertinent Organic Act. It is the belief that this one major national step will spur a national alliance to help realize the common vision of an Autonomous Cordillera for our future generations.
The RDC-CAR has partnered with Metro Manila-based Global Quality Education Providers, to serve as conference facilitator and secretariat. Interested parties may call 09178293991, 9277631 or 7097785, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of the upcoming event can also be viewed at www.onecordillera.org or through the facebook account: One Cordillera, Yes to Autonomy.