February 28, 2024

Environmental protection, cultural preservation, agriculture modernization, and the pursuit of self-rule will remain among the primary agenda of the Cordillera’s highest policy-making body.

Regional Development Council Chair and Apayao Gov. Elias C. Bulut said the council will continue advocating for the preparation of comprehensive forest land use plans of every local government unit to complement their comprehensive land use plans.

“These plans will include comprehensive maps to include sustainable land management and environmental conservation efforts,” Bulut said.

The RDC will focus on the development of Cordillera’s renewable energy resources and one step towards that is the updating of the region’s energy master plan.

“I have made this one of my priority agenda when I first sat as RDC chair. We will continue pushing for this,” Bulut said during his State of the Region Address on Sept. 14.

The RDC will push for the creation of a regional office of the Department of Energy and will support bills to amend the Local Government Code, the DOE Act, and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act where “host community” should be redefined.

On cultural pre-servation, Bulut said the RDC supports the establishment of a department of culture and institute for cultural heritage and conservation.

The RDC will also continue to sustain and strengthen the documentation of indigenous knowledge systems and practices.

“We will also enhance our efforts to foster cultural excellence by implementing support programs for local arts councils,” he said.

Bulut said the RDC will work to modernize agriculture and agri-business and pursue the production of the region’s banner commodities such as coffee and heirloom rice and high-value crops like cacao and bamboo.

He said the construction and improvement of critical rural infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, and post-harvest processing facilities are critical in improving agriculture productivity and resiliency among the agriculture value chain actors.

“We will also work with other stakeholders such as businesses and community organizations to create a supportive environment for young farmers,” Bulut said.

The pursuit for autonomy also remains one of the RDC’s top agenda.

“The advocacy for autonomy will be expanded and activities that will foster linkage with regional and national actors will be pursued,” Bulut said.

He said the RDC supports the passage of House Bill 3267 and Senate Bill 2275 that sought to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera. – Jane B. Cadalig