June 14, 2024

The implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling this year and the assumption of new sets of local officials provide an ideal environment for Cordillerans to prove they are ready for self-governance.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Usec. Joseline Niwane said the full devolution of national government functions to local government units is the best social preparation for Cordillera in the region’s clamor for autonomy.

She said how the LGU officials deliver services under a full devolution set up will test the Cordillera’s readiness for autonomy.

Niwane added the increase in the tax allocation of LGUs as a result of the devolution gives them the opportunity to deliver better services to their constituents, which is one of the aspirations of autonomy advocates.

Citing the DSWD that devolved most of its social protection programs to the provincial and municipal social welfare offices, she said LGUs are expected to also expand the services they provide to the people.

“This is now an opportunity for LGUs in the Cordillera to show their readiness for regional autonomy,” Niwane said in her message read by Prosecutor Zenaida Niwane during the launching of the Cordillera Month celebration in Sagada, Mountain Province last week.

Niwane called on local officials to prove the region is ready to become autonomous by improving the services they deliver to the people and make the Cordillera foremost region in the country with the most number of social services available for the people.

With the increase in the LGUs’ national tax allocation (formerly internal revenue allotment), Niwane also challenged Cordillera LGUs to become the models of leaders “who are not corrupt and do not abuse their authority, but rather conscientiously render the full resources of government to raise the quality of life of their people that would be a most vital component in the social preparation for a Cordillera autonomous region.”

She also expressed optimism that with collective efforts from stakeholders, the clamor for Cordillera autonomy will finally be realized.

“Not pushing through (with autonomy) would be tantamount to admitting the Cordillerans are not capable of governing themselves,” Niwane said. – Jane B. Cadalig