An autonomy expert has urged the Cordillera Regional Development Council and its partners to adopt a two-track approach in the region’s renewed quest for autonomy in the light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed federal form of government.
Lawyer Benedicto Bacani, the executive director of the Cotabato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said an autonomous region may still exist within a federal state or it may be converted into a separate independent state depending on the strategy to be employed by autonomy advocates to gain the attention of the national government on issue.
Bacani explained that the timeline of the Duterte administration for the shift from a republican to a federal government was six years, so the Constitutional Convention (ConCon) must be in place next year, the plebiscite in 2019 and the transition period will be the remaining three years of the President’s term.
According to him, once the autonomous region will be put in place, it is easy for Cordillerans to make representations with the ConCon for the recognition of the autonomous region that is already in place and the non-diminution of powers and benefits of the autonomous region.
Bacani added Cordillerans must also have a stronger and unified position in the proposed Charter change for the retention of the provisions mandating the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera.
He reminded that it is not yet late for the Cordillera to have either an autonomous region within a federal state or an independent federal state for the Cordillera and they can initiate the steps towards any of these under the Duterte administration.