By ALDWIN QUITASOL
ITOGON, Benguet — Itogon Sangguniang Bayan member Jun Carantes said that the drafting committee just passed the draft proposal for Cordillera Autonomy on to the House of Representatives without enough consultation.
Carantes, speaking at one of the celebrations of the 28th Cordillera Day here said he thought that the drafted provisions of the Cordillera Autonomy organic act will be presented and discussed in the communities. He said he believes it important that points of discussions and other issues and suggestions to be considered in the draft will be sourced out from the people to make the autonomy bid acceptable to the greater number of Indigenous Peoples of the region.
The councilor said that when the drafting committee was done putting in proposals in the said draft, they called him and other concerned officials and some individuals to the Benguet Provincial Capitol.
There, they told them that the draft proposal for a Cordillera Autonomous Region is already to be submitted to the Congress for finalization.
The said autonomy proposal was filed as House bill 5595 or the Act to Establish the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
The bill was principally authored by Baguio City Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara, Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang. Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr. and Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog.
The autonomy bill contains 17 articles with 173 sections. It has five major principles such as the putting up of a permanent regional identity for the Cordillera, there will be no reduction in the benefits and powers of local governments, the salaries of the nationally paid government officials and employees will still be provided by the national government, there will be a grant of a subsidy to the Autonomous Regional Government coming from the national government amounting to P10 billion for the first five years and P5 billion for the next five years and the national government to continue its support to the regional government even after the expiration of the 10 year subsidy period.
Carantes said that he commented what if the grassroots have some comments and suggestions.
He said they answered him that they will send such inputs through resolutions to the Congress for their inclusion.
He feared that the people of the region will again reject the autonomy bid as it was not well explained to the people especially the grass roots what it was all about.
He added that just like the past two autonomy proposals, the Cordillerans will express their disapproval by voting no in the referendum or plebiscite. # nordis.net