March 21, 2023


On Monday, the 25th of July, Cordillerans will join millions of fellow Filipinos in monitoring the inaugural State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. where he will lay the groundwork towards a progressive nation through his key policies and priorities as the 17th chief executive.

We do not expect the President to mention policies and priorities closer to home such as the long-time quest for an autonomous Cordillera, but it is our wish that this highland region will see gains such as a robust agriculture, lower poverty incidence, better healthcare services, and stable prices of fuel and basic commodities through policies he will lay down for the nation.

It would come as a great surprise if the President, without hesitation, would support the region’s bid for autonomy that formally started in 1986, the same year when former President Corazon Aquino took command after the Marcos family left the country due to the intense pressure from all sides for Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. to step down.

Ahead of the President’s SONA, many of the country’s top leaders and experts have shared their thoughts on what Marcos Jr. should outline as his priorities and how he could convince the Lower House and the Senate to pass measures that will help his administration carry out his programs and projects in this time when the country is faced with many challenges made more complicated by the continuing pandemic, huge foreign loans, and the Russian-led war in Ukraine.

Regardless of what the President will outline in his SONA, Cordillerans, especially our elected leaders, must sustain their efforts in making Malacañang and Congress constantly aware of the pressing issues and concerns besetting our region and its people.

Aside from the quest for autonomy, this predominantly agriculture-based region has to be prioritized in the administration’s roadmap towards food security with the President in command of the agriculture department. This region must be likewise prioritized in disaster risk reduction programs, as all six provinces in the region remain among the top 10 areas in the country prone to landslides and flashfloods.

As home to various ethno-linguistic groups, this region must be included in programs and projects that promote the welfare of indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities over their ancestral lands and domains against possible exploitation by multi-national companies, and by the government itself.

Cordillerans are thankful to the new administration for including the major rehabilitation of Kennon Road in the list of private-public partnership (PPP) priority projects with an initial funding of P12.45 billion, an indication this government will not let this region be left behind in terms of fund support for high-impact projects and programs.

This early, we are hopeful our elected leaders will build a strong network among themselves in order to have a stronger voice in their communication with Malacañang and to gain a stronger lobbying stance for support from the national government, especially with the President being a proud son of the north.

Regardless of political affiliations, Cordillera leaders must rally behind the new administration and support the President’s call for unity after a polarized elections where most Filipinos were engaged in political animosity.

Meantime, charting the right path towards a better Cordillera and an empowered Cordillera population starts not from the President but from our local leaders whom we put to power in the recent elections.