House passes bill creating Cordillera Autonomous Region

The House of Representatives approved on its third and final reading a bill that seeks to create the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).

House Bill (HB) 5687, also known as the Cordillera Autonomous Region bill, proposes to create a politically autonomous Cordillera, reflecting the hopes and aspirations of Cordillerans, as well as changes in the political, economic, and technological landscape in CAR.

Once passed into law, the Cordillera region will exercise meaningful self-governance where Cordillerans will be “free to pursue their political, economic, social and cultural development within the framework of national sovereignty and in accordance with the Constitution.”

The Cordillera region will remain an “integral and inseparable part” of the country’s territory, while transferring regional government powers to local government units, particularly in areas of education, health, human resources, science and technology, and people empowerment. The bill also proposes an equitable and proportionate share in the country’s annual national budget, as well as foreign-assisted projects.

Baguio City representative Mark Go, one of the bill’s principal authors (Reps. Eric Yap, Allen Jesse Mangaoang, Maximo Dalog, Jr., Solomon Chungalao, Elias Bulut, Jr., and Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos), called the bill “a measure that’s been more than three decades in the making,” adding that the bill’s drafting “involved the collaboration of different representatives of the Cordillera provinces in efforts to come up with a measure that represents the true aspirations of Cordillerans.”

According to Rep. Go, the time is ripe for the Cordillera region to fulfill its goal of political autonomy, adding that the political, economic, and technological landscapes in the Cordilleras have since advanced.  He added “that since 1987, the Cordillera region has been placed under a transitory system of administration in preparation for a politically autonomous Cordillera, and that the current administrative region was “not meant to serve our region in perpetuity.”

The bill is set to be transmitted to the Senate.