May 28, 2024

The implementation of the Mandanas Ruling in 2022 will not render the Cordillera’s quest for autonomy, useless.
Officials of government line agencies in the Cordillera said even with the impending implementation of the Mandanas Ruling, which will provide local government units more funds to finance the functions devolved to them by the national government, the pursuit for an autonomous region is still relevant.
National Economic Development Authority-Cordillera Asst. Director Stephanie Christiansen said the increase in LGUs’ share from the national taxes, espoused by the Mandanas Ruling will focus more on the delivery of basic services.
She said there are still functions that will remain with the national government, and implementation of which will still be based on national policies.
“Only the functions devolved under the Local Government Code will be implemented by the LGUs. There are still services that will remain with the national government, such as the management of natural resources, health care system, and construction of national roads,” Christiansen said.
Among other things, advocates have anchored the pursuit for autonomy on the need for Cordillerans to decide on their development through the crafting of policies that are responsive to the region’s needs and peculiarities.
Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Executive Director Cameron Odsey said an example by which an autonomous setup can hasten development, particularly in remote communities, is the crafting of policies for highland agriculture.
Odsey said with the current setup, agricultural development programs are focused on rice, being the Filipino staple food and other crops grown in the lowlands.
“National policies prioritize the lowland crops. With autonomy, our own policy-making body will give attention to the needs of poor farmers in remote areas,” he said.
Odsey said while the national government has been paying attention to highland agriculture, most of the initiatives done are carried out through special projects, such as the Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project.
“The problem with special projects is they end,” he said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cordillera OIC Director Araceli San Jose said a regional autonomous setup is still needed because even if the implementation of the Mandanas Ruling will provide huge funds for the local government units from the national taxes, the allocation will still be based on the population and land area.
She said even if the national tax allocation for the LGUs will increase, the share of Cordillera LGUs will still fail in comparison with LGUs with large areas and population in other large regions. – Jane B. Cadalig