RDC-CAR endorses new draft bill for Autonomous Region of the Cordillera

The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) recently approved for endorsement to the CAR Congressmen a new draft House Bill (HB) for an Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

The draft bill was presented by former DENR-CAR Director Clarence L. Baguilat, member of the Technical Working Group for the drafting of the Regional Autonomy bill, during the RDC Full Council meeting on November 22, 2016 at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Important documents such as the Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC) Bill, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and HB 4649 were used as references. In addition, inputs to the new draft HB were the comments and suggestions given during the regionwide public consultations and hearing on HB 4649, including the meeting with the Office of Senator Pimentel, in 2015; and the Roundtable Discussion, Legal Analysis Workshop, and the Regional Stakeholders Conference conducted in 2016.

Among the highlights of the new autonomy bill are the adoption of the name Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC) to distinguish it from the current CAR as an administrative region (Article 1, Sec. 1 – Name and Purpose), and changing the term “communities” to “ICCs and IPs” (Article III, Sec. 12 – Respect for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights).

The proposed autonomy bill, reported Director Baguilat, has 19 articles and 184 sections. Eighty-five percent of these (or 147 sections) was retained or reworded from HB 4649. The article on Revenues and Fiscal Matters was adopted in full. Ten percent (or 18 sections) was adopted/reworded, with Article XI – XIII based on the CRCC Bill. Nine percent (or 16 sections) was adopted from the BBL, and 1 percent was adopted from the 1987 Constitution. Two sections were new provisions introduced by the TWG.

Baguio City Mayor Domogan lauded the TWG for coming up with what he said was a much improved bill on autonomy for the Cordillera Region. He however recommended the revision of the draft bill’s definition of the Cordilleran, and the inclusion of a section defining the national government functions that will be devolved to the Autonomous Region. The body, agreeing to these suggestions, approved the endorsement of the draft bill as revised, to the Cordillera Congressmen for their consideration.

NEDA-CAR, as the RDC and TWG Secretariat, is set to convene the TWG soonest to discuss the revisions as suggested by the RDC. The revised bill shall then be endorsed to the Cordillera Congressmen during an Advisory Committee meeting tentatively scheduled in January next year.#