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  • Writer's pictureMenchie Kinao

Will Pres. Marcos Jr. support Cordillera autonomy?

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Apayao, Philippines – Contrary to what was expected, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was unable to attend the commemoration of 36th Cordillera Day on Saturday, July 15, 2023, due to inclement weather.

He, however, sent his message which left those who were absent from the event wondering whether he backed the region’s quest for autonomy.

In his speech delivered by Presidential Assistant for Northern Luzon Assistant Secretary Ana Carmela Remigio, the President took the opportunity to thank Cordillerans for supporting him in the 2022 elections. It was the public trust, he said, that keeps him motivated to “serve with passion, strength, and purpose.”

Marcos then urged the audience to bolster government initiatives aimed at uplifting the lives of the Cordillerans such as the laying down of fiber optic cables to improve communications and access to the internet, and many other programs being spearheaded by the Regional Development Council chaired by Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Jr.

"Cordillera’s hydropower, irrigation, and agriculture potentials should continue to be tapped"

The region, as he described, is endowed with rich natural resources and vast fertile valleys that should be explored without destroying its natural heritage.

“The Cordilleras’ potential in terms of hydropower, irrigation, and agriculture is vast and should continue to be tapped for the benefit of all,” underscored the President.

For farmers, Marcos, who is also at the helm of the Department of Agriculture, pledged to prioritize the development of agricultural lands, building of infrastructure, and improving market linkages for the sector to yield not only crops but also opportunities that create ripples of positive effects throughout the nation.

Administration to work for the progress of every Cordilleran

The President concluded his speech without saying anything about the region’s self-rule but assured that his administration “will work for the progress of every Cordilleran in the years ahead.”

BBM is trying to help - Bulut

In his talk, Bulut Jr. stressed the President from the “Solid North” is trying to help the attainment of self-determination. Thus, regional leaders and their constituents should keep their fingers crossed.

Since its creation in 1987, Cordillera Administrative Region which was established in preparation for its autonomy status remained the same. Its two previous bids failed with only Ifugao and Apayao favoring self-rule on January 1990 and March 1998 referendums, respectively.

Lawmakers in the region have long been seeking approval but failed due to a lack of material time.

House Bill 3267 filed before the 19th Congress is pending before the House Committee on Rules.

Plenary debates will likely be scheduled after the second State of the Nation Address of the President on July 24.


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