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Cordillera autonomy gets support from Senators

MANILA, Aug. 16(PIA) -- The bid for a Cordillera autonomous region has gathered more support from in the national level.


Former Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito personally met with Cordillera leaders in a forum in Manila last week to assure their strong support to the aspirations for an autonomous region in the Cordillera.

The forum organized by the Cordillera Regional Development Council with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) was an offshoot of recent activities to drum-beat the third attempt for Cordillera autonomy.

Pimentel said this is the best time for the Cordillera autonomy to be discussed since the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which also has the same legal mandate as the Cordillera autonomy, has just been passed.

Just like in the Bangsamoro organic law, the passage of the Cordillera Autonomy bill in the Senate is no longer an issue, it is just a matter of time, he said.

He explained that this is possible with the filing by at least three senators namely Senator Miguel Zubiri, Senator Bam Aquino and Senator JV Ejercito, their versions of the act establishing the autonomous region in the Cordillera.

He said he would be filing the fourth Senate Bill on Cordillera Autonomy and would be working with other Senators to pass it in time.  

Pimentel added that aside from the support in Senate, this is the best time for the Cordillerans to push for autonomy with President Rodrigo Duterte as a strong advocate of autonomy and federalism.  He said that the passage of both Cordillera and Bangsamoro laws would be a legacy of the President.

“Let us really work on this. In the meantime, we need to prepare the support mechanism in the ground anticipating that the bill will become a law and then during the plebiscite our networks should be ready to support the approval of the bill,” Pimentel said.

It could be remembered that Pimentel was the first to file the Senate Bill on the creation of a Cordillera autonomous region back in 2012 but was overtaken by events.

In his message, Ejercito vowed his full support for the Cordillera autonomy and has already filed a Senate counterpart bill of House Bill 5343 or the act establishing an Autonomous Region in the Cordillera.

Ejercito said that he is giving his support to his fellow Cordillerans being an adopted son of two provinces, Kalinga and Mountain Province. “You have my full support for the preservation of our culture, heritage, and identify. I am one with you because I am a Cordilleran myself.”

He also assured that the Senate supports the passage of the law giving autonomy to the Cordilleras. “Rest assured that our support in the Senate is with the Cordillerans on the passage of its autonomy,” he said.

 Sen. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, in a video message presented during the event, also gave his support for a Cordillera autonomous status.

“We support the Cordillera autonomy, which is in our Constitution," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government.

Meanwhile, OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza urged the people of the Cordillera region to unite and work hard to finally achieve their overarching goal of regional autonomy.

Dureza, a staunch advocate of Cordillera autonomy, said the government is very supportive of Cordillera’s bid for autonomy “because it is provided in the Constitution.”

“Let your presence be known and I am sure you will not be ignored because it is your right under the Constitution to have your own Autonomous Region of the Cordilleras,” he said.

He hopes that the recently-enacted Bangsamoro Organic Law would serve as a template to address the aspiration of the Cordillerans to have their own autonomous region. (PIA CAR)


Baguio Tourist Attractions

Marker of the Philippine Commission's First Session in Baguio

This is the site of the building where the members of the Philippine Commission met from April 22 to June 11, 1904 and officially initiated the use of Baguio as the Philippine Summer Capital. The Commission was composed of Governor General Luke Wright, president, and Commissioners Henry Ide, Dean C. Worcester, T Padre Tavera, Benito Legarda, Jose de Luzuriaga, James Smith and Cameron Forbes.

Kennon Road and its Builder

Tourist-Spots-in-BaguioNamed after Col. Lyman W. Kennon, who was the final builder of the famous Benguet road, with the help of the industrious Cordillerans and foreign workers. Kennon road is the shortest and the most scenic highway linking Baguio and the lowlands. The lion's head can be found along the way. Final construction of this road was finished in 1903. Col. L. Kennon first ascended to Baguio in 1905. Of the original workers, the Igorots and Japanese were admired for their trustworthiness and willingness to work. Kennon was closed to traffic after the July 16, 1990 earthquake. It is now open to light vehicles only.

Diplomat Hotel on Dominican Hill

diplomatIn May 1911, the councils of the Province of the Dominican Order voted to construct a vacation house in Baguio on a 17-hectare property they had acquired when the American authorities were encouraging people to come here. Actual work started in 1913 under Fr. Roque Ruano and the building was inaugurated on May 23, 1925. To take advantage of the tax exemptions a school called Collegio del Santissimo Rosario was opened in June 1915 but due to the very small enrollment the school closed in 1917, reverting the building to the original vacation house. During WWII refugees first occupied it. Later the Japanese Army Liberation Forces had to bomb out the refugees from the buildings. The five hits left very extensive damage and for a time it was left unrepaired. Reconstruction was started in 1947 and completed in 1948 with most of its pre-war grandeur and beauty restored. In 1973, Diplomat Hotels, Inc. acquired ownership, remodeled the interior into a 33-bedroom hotel with modern facilities, but retained the unique and distinct personality of the Dominican Hill. In the 80's the hotel ceased operations due to the death of one of its majority stockholders. Plans are underway to develop this historical religious landmark into a tourist resort.

Philippine Military Academy

PMAThe Philippine Commission promulgated Act No. 175, which became the basis for the creation of the Philippine Constabulary in August 8, 1905. The school for the officers of the constabulary was first located in Sta. Lucia Barracks in Manila. Later in 1908, it was relocated in Baguio on the site known as Constabulary Hill later renamed Camp Henry T. Allen, in honor of the first chief of the Philippine Constabulary. With the passage of the Jones Law, the school was later changed to "Academy for Officers of the Philippine Constabulary" with a two-year curriculum. In 1908, the course was raised to collegiate level and later lengthened to three years with class 1938 as having the last graduates of that course. When the commonwealth government was established in 1935, the Philippine Military Academy was created in place of the Philippine Constabulary Academy. Under the National Defense Act, the PMA was authorized to maintain cadet strength of 350. Because of increased population, the academy transferred to Teachers Camp in June 1936 where it remained until WWII broke out. After the war the PMA headquarters was temporarily relocated at Camp Murphy and later at Alabang, while Camp Allen was being rehabilitated. Since May 1950 the Philippine Military Academy has found its permanent home at Fort del Pilar, Loakan, Baguio City.

The Mansion

The-Mansion-Baguio-CityThis imposing and majestic mansion has a long list of Filipino Presidents and American governor-generals. It has elegantly structured building and guesthouse. Its gate is patterned after that of London's Buckingham Palace. The Mansion has also been the site of several international conferences and a working office of the President of the Philippines during his visits to the City.

Camp John Hay

camp-john-hay-amphitheaterThis former American recreational facility is currently undergoing development as a world class resort. As of March 27, 1999, the golf course was completed and is now open, The skating rink, picnic area, and the mini golf course at the Scout Hill area are likewise open.

Asin Hot Spring

Located 16 kilometers northwest of Baguio, the resort's main feature is a swimming pool surrounded by thermal springs, lush vegetation and several hanging bridges. It is an ideal respite. This is now eyed to be redeveloped into a tourism resort along with the adjoining tourist attractions of Tuba and Baguio.

Bell Church

The-Bell-Church-of-Baguio-CityThis cluster of temples is located on the border of Baguio City and Trinidad Valley. Its exotic oriental architecture, pagodas roof, ornate gateway, dragon ornaments and Buddha - guarded windows gaze from atop a hill. The Bell Temple priest practices a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. One may even try having his fortune told.

Burnham Park

Burnham-Park-BaguioIt is the oldest of all Baguio parks. One can unwind from the tension of the day-to-day bustle by biking, skating or simply reflecting on the day's experiences amid a soothing garden backdrop of colorful flowers. It is thickly wooded and is a great place to have picnics and concerts. There are tennis and basketball courts, a football field, athletic oval and an orchidarium.

Mines View Park

Mines-View-Park-Baguio-CityAppropriately named for its breathtaking view of Benguet's mountain ranges where gold, silver and other ores were once quarried. There are souvenir shops around the park offering such items as woodcarvings, woven cloth, ashtrays, shell products and other curio items.

Wright Park

It is sometimes mistakenly called "Ride Park" by some that identify this pine tree park reserve for kiddy horse rides. A long stairway leads to the "Pool of the Pines", a 100 meter long pool of water lined on both sides by the famous Baguio towering pine.