Cordi autonomy bill gains backing from public and private sectors

BAGUIO CITY, 20 April 2018 – The Cordillerans rallied their support for the creation of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC) during the first public hearing initiated here yesterday by the House of Representatives.

“We strongly manifest our support on House Bill 5343 believing and recognizing that it is the most effective option to provide the region with sustainable development and to promote our cultural diversity,” Barangay Chairman Ferdinand Bucad said on behalf of the Liga ng mga Barangay Baguio City Chapter.

House Bill (HB) No. 5343 or “An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera” seeks genuine autonomy in the region in response to their clamor for self-determination.

Regional offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, and the Department of Interior and Local Government also voiced their “full and unconditional support” for the bill, describing it as the “realization of their long-cherished dream and aspiration to manage their own resources and to promote our cultural practices.”

Business and civil society organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Filipino Investors Society, and Igorota Foundation also expressed support for the bill.

In their opening remarks, Cordilleran Representatives Marquez Go, Allen Jesse Mangaoang,and Ronald Cosalan jointly committed their best efforts in prioritizing the approval of the bill by the Committee on Local Government before the end of the 17th Congress.

For his part, Baguio City Mayor and Regional Development Council Chair Mauricio Domogan said it is both “an individual and collective obligation to make the people understand our need for regional autonomy.”

“Let us all continue to unite and work with our lawmakers for the realization of our clamor,” he said.

The draft bill, now with 19 articles, aims to guarantee the region’s financial capability without the diminution of their existing benefits and powers.

Among its salient points are: the continued existence of line agencies in support of their regional offices; payment of business taxes in the Cordillera region instead of the National Capital Region (NCR); an 80%-20% share of agency fees between ARC and NCR; and the continuous collection of their internal revenue allotment.

By | April 20th, 2018|CBA-CPLA, News|0 Comments

Reintegration of former combatants highlights Cordi groups’ assembly

BANGUED, Abra – From arms to amity. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) proposed the formation of the Peace and Development Forces (PDF) to former Cordilleran rebel groups as part of the peace agreement between the government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) on Wednesday morning.

During the “Galigad” or a ceremonial cessation of hostilities presented by the CBA-CPLA Balao-as faction, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza along with AFP-Peace Process Office Chief BGen. Raniel Ramiro suggested the process of decommissioning of firearms as an initial step to the eventual creation of the PDF towards the normalcy of former rebel groups in Cordillera.

Puwede yung mga baril ninyo hindi i-surrender at ipapa-inventory lang natin sa military kasi ang military ang custodian (ng firearms). Inventory muna, lista, and then i-deposito na muna. Pagkatapos, mag train kayo gaya ng mga army reservists. Pag tapos na kayong mag-training at qualified na kayo, puwede na kayong ipasok doon sa agency as reservists of the military,” Dureza suggested.

(Instead of surrendering your firearms, they should be part of the military’s inventory as they are the custodians for them. Inventory first, list them, then deposit them for the meantime. Afterwards, you may train like those enlisted as army reservists. Once you’ve completed it, you may join as reservists of the military)

The event, in partnership with the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic and Development Authority – Cordillera Administrative Region (NEDA-CAR), also featured the information and education campaign on Cordillera Autonomy.

Marissa Cabato of NEDA-CAR said the campaign is still open for changes and interested individuals may submit contents to be included in the IECs subject to the evaluation and approval of RDC and NEDA-CAR.

On January 17, Senator Miguel Zubiri fulfilled a recent promise to the Cordillerans by filing Senate Bill 1678 or an Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. Zubiri is among the senators supportive of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

According to Senate Bill 1678, the establishment of an Autonomous Region of Cordillera will give the Cordillerans “the opportunity to decide on what policies and programs will best fit the economic, social, and cultural development within the framework of the national sovereignty and in consonance with their local practices and cultural heritage and identity.”

The bill also aims to address underdevelopment and poverty in the Cordilleras more effectively through regional autonomy.

Last year, leaders and representatives of various Cordillera rebel factions and other groups, namely the CPLA and CPLA-CBA, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC), Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC), and North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG), jointly called on all Cordillerans to unite and rally behind efforts to establish the constitutionally mandated Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

Cordillera groups, together with the local chief executives and representatives of the six provinces of the Cordillera and the City of Baguio, have expressed support for the passage of House Bill 5343, “An act establishing the autonomous region of the Cordillera.” ###

Zubiri to author Cordillera autonomy bill

QUEZON CITY – Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri declared on Wednesday morning, that he will author a Senate bill for the establishment of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera to support the Cordillerans’ aspiration for self-determination, and the pressing need for autonomy.

During the “Congressional Forum on Cordillera Autonomy and Federalism”, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza committed his best efforts to push for House Bill 5343 to be taken as a priority bill.

“I will continue to advocate Cordillera’s autonomy in the Palace and in the Senate. I would like to see this happen also, not in another time. A victory should not be postponed anymore. We like this to happen while we have an enabling environment,” the Peace Adviser assured.

Through a call from Dureza while the forum is ongoing, Zubiri immediately gave his positive response.

“I am honored to author the Autonomous Region for the Cordillera bill,” Zubiri stated.

Prior to the senator’s announcement, Cordillera leaders were seeking a champion from the lawmakers through the said forum. The event was the fruition of the pronounced commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to support the Cordilleran Administrative Region’s advocacy for autonomy in July 2017 at the Malacanang Palace.

Furthermore, Dureza lauded the efforts of the region in garnering support not only of President Rodrigo Duterte’s and other key national leaders, but above all else, the public.

“The region’s advocacy is a big help for the bill. We need to raise it as often as we can publicly because we are now seeing positive indications and signs that the people would support it. You have succeeded in engaging the bigger table – the public, for your aspirations and your quest for self-determination,” Dureza expressed.

“I hope the same fire is still there among the Cordillerans and we hope that with the bigger number supporting it, and being aware of it, that our advocacy will further spread that big fire into a conflagration that everybody will have to come around and help put out that big fire. That is the dream of the Cordillerans and that is my dream as a Filipino citizen and as a son of the Cordillera,” Dureza added.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, in a united Cordillera stance, stated that, through peaceful means, the region never stopped pursuing its dream.

“We keep on telling to our people: Let us continue to make the difference as people of the Cordilleras in a way that we achieve our dreams in clamor for autonomy through peaceful means,” Domogan said.

Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan, who is a former vice governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, during the open forum, discussed similarities and differences between the ARMM and the Cordillera and shared learnings from their experiences in Mindanao.

He expressed his hopes to see Cordillera as an autonomous region before the government’s shift to Federalism and noted that the continued interaction between the two regions as a very good learning experience. ###

CAR adopts Dureza as “Son of Cordillera”

BAGUIO CITY – Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza was honored as the “adopted son of Cordillera” by the Regional Development Council (RDC) and tribal leaders of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) during the Gong Relay event in Baguio City Hall as part of the celebration of 30th anniversary of the region.

The RDC commended the secretary for his unparalleled support for Cordilleran autonomy and unwavering efforts to provide peace and development in the country, calling him as “Mansapit”, a Kankanaey word that means peace-maker or savior.

Aside from the certificate of adoption, Sec. Dureza was also given tokens, such as a gangsa (Cordillera type of Gong), spear, shield and loincloth.

In his speech, Sec. Dureza reiterated the importance of consulting the bigger table, the people’s peace table, in order for the Cordillerans’ goal of achieving full autonomy be realized.

“Cordillera is not only composed of officials that represent you in the same manner that when I talk to the rebels on our negotiation, I openly refer to them as small table. The bigger table is the public, they are the stakeholders.”

The Secretary also announced that after President Duterte receive the draft of Bangsamoro Enabling Bill on Monday, he will meet with the Cordilleran groups to discuss the draft of the House Bill 5343 “An Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of Cordillera” on Tuesday so they can voice out their aspirations to the President.

“I talked to the President before I went here. I said “we’re moving decisively on the Bangsamoro. Let us not leave the Cordillerans behind,” the secretary said.

“I told him, (President) in the same that you certify the bill to pass the BBL for the Bangsamoro, then equally, we must see to it that we certify the bill to create the Cordillera Autonomous Region.”

The passing of the Unity Gong from one CAR province to another symbolizes their unity, and calls for support for full autonomy and cultural preservation.The Gong Relay event also featured the ceremonial beating of Gong by local government officials, and its turn over from Baguio to Benguet. ###

Cordillera officials discuss terms for peace with reds

Government negotiators tasked to secure peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF) motored to Baguio City today to hold a two-day consultation-workshop with government officials and community leaders of the Cordilleras on proposed social and economic reforms being discussed with communist guerrillas.
The consultation-workshop, being held at the Albergo Hotels, also seek to solicit inputs from the local officials and community leaders of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) regarding concerns on the proposed joint ceasefire agreement with communist rebels.
“This activity is part of the government panel’s nationwide consultations with relevant stakeholders to collect inputs, test the validity of its positioning and encourage buy-ins for the on-going peace negotiations,” explained former Agrarian Reform Sec. Hernani Braganza, the panel member supervising the discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and joint ceasefire agreement.
“We are your negotiators. What we want to discuss in the negotiating table with the NDF is your position on issues affecting your communities. Now is the time for the Cordillerans to speak up and voice out your concerns with regard to the peace negotiation,” Braganza added.
He explained that the outputs of the consultation-workshop, held under the auspices of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), will be included as inputs to the fifth round of formal peace negotiation with the NDF scheduled in The Netherlands from May 27 to June 1, 2017.
The government and the NDF had previously conducted four rounds of formal peace negotiations under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, achieving breakthroughs in CASER discussions, ceasefire agreement and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHR-IHL).
For CASER, both panels had agreed to accelarate the discussion through formation of bilateral teams that meet regularly in Manila in between formal rounds of peace negotiation. The discussions intend to flesh out an agreement on free land distribution for a proposed agrarian reform program.
During the fourth round of peace talks, held in Noordwidjk Ann Zee in The Netherlands last March, both panels also agreed to craft a joint ceasefire agreement that will provide cessation of hostilities pending the signing of a final peace agreement. The terms of reference (TOR) of the joint ceasefire is now under discussion in Manila.
The third round of peace talks, held in Rome last January, produced an agreement providing supplementing guidelines for the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the CARHR-IHL.
The CARHR-IHL was signed by the government and the NDF in 1998, but it was only under the term of President Duterte that it was made fully operational.
The agreement recognized the need to apply human rights principles when responding to the armed conflict. It obligated both parties to promote the respect of and adherence to international humanitarian law among its forces. It emphasized the urgency of protecting the civilian population.
Braganza noted that side from CASER and joint ceasefire, both panels will also discuss their respective positions on the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) on the next round of talks in The Netherlands.
“At the moment, discussions were being conducted extensively on CASER since forging an agreement on social and economic reforms is acknowledged by parties to be central to reaching unity and peace,” he explained.
“We will also focus on the joint ceasefire since forging a bilateral ceasefire is considered to be of parallel importance to provide an enabling environment for reforms to take place,” he added.
Braganza said the consultation-workshop in Baguio City is the first under the RDC and RPOC mechanism, and will be replicated in other regions in between formal rounds of negotiations abroad.
“We will try to bring to the negotiating table as many voices as possible. The final peace agreement is not for government, but for the entire Filipino nation,” he pointed out.

Dureza champions Cordillera autonomy

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.

Cordillerans unite for peace

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CORDILLERANS UNITE FOR PEACE. “I got the message that that there is already a clear indication that everybody would like to converge, kaya nga nandito kami, we are not going to assure anything. We just would like to hear from you that there is already a unity in this and that we would like to help you push this forward,” Peace Adviser Sec. Jesus G. Dureza addresses the advocates of the autonomy for Cordillera region on 24 April 2017 at Mt. Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province.

“Napakahalaga na makarating ito sa stakeholders mismo… Go for selling this to your people on the ground. Hindi lang dito sa itaas, hindi lang sa mga political leaders, hindi lang sa mga CSOs, yung taong bayan mismo must have the ownership, hindi lang yung maiintindihan nila pero aakuin din nila na kanila ‘yan,” Sec. Dureza also emphasized that aside from having a strong and united voice in pushing for Cordillera’s autonomy, it is also important that the Cordillerans themselves must have the ownership of the responsibility to fight for their cause. #PILIPINOtayoPEACEtayo

Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on his meeting with President Duterte regarding updates on the peace process with some Cabinet members, including Secretaries Silvestre Bello III, Liza Masa, Judy Taguiwalo, and Rafael Mariano at Malacañang

We met with President Duterte until late last night and discussed the directions and possible next steps in our peace engagements with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), the Bangsamoro, the Cordillerans, and the other stakeholders.

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“Autonomy must be inclusive” – Peace Secretary Dureza

TABUK, Kalinga, February 13, 2017 – “We should listen to everyone”, this was the message of autonomy champion and Peace Adviser Sec. Jesus Dureza before the Cordillera Regional Development Council in Tabuk, Kalinga during its meeting on February 13, 2017. Said meeting was hosted by the province which coincided with its 22nd Foundation Day and 1st Bodong Festival.

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