BAUKO, Mountain Province (24 April 2017) – “There should only be one united effort towards autonomy for the Cordillera, that is our main intention.” This was the message of Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza during the first Forum on Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Regional Autonomy dubbed as “Pioneer Cordillera Champions Coming Together” held at Mount Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province on Monday.

The forum attended was attended by 200 participants including representatives of various Cordillera rebel factions and other groups namely the CPLA and Cordillera Bodong Association (CPLA-CBA), Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC), Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC), and North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG), civil society, local government units and national government agencies.  It was organized by the Cordillera Regional Development Council and NEDA-CAR in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process as a venue for continuing dialogue with Cordillera peace stakeholders.

The Cordillera groups together with the local chief executives and representatives of the six provinces of the Cordillera and the City of Baguio expressed total support for the passage of House Bill 5343, “An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera” which was filed recently in Congress.

Secretary Dureza advised that there should first be peace and unity among the tribes.  He said, “In the road map for the Cordillerans, you may have different tribes but there is only one destination, so even despite your factions, let’s now try and converge these different roads towards one destination – just autonomy for the Cordillerans.”

In the same event, OPAPP Undersecretary for Peace Accords Nabil Tan, who was part of the initial efforts in the establishment of the Autonomous Region on the Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), shared the initial challenges of transformation into an autonomous region.  He advised that the CAR people should understand and support the movement for autonomy prior to the conduct of a plebiscite.

Baguio City Mayor and CAR Regional Development Council (RDC) Chair Mauricio Domogan said that the new proposed bill reiterates the Cordillera people’s united stand for genuine regional autonomy. “We had been totally neglected by the national government for a long period of time and so it is time to support and pass the bill,” said Mayor Domogan.