December 4, 2022

Cordillera officials should continue their talks with the national government in relation to the long-time quest for autonomy, which was the battle cry of those who signed the peace pact agreement with the Aquino government 35 years ago. 
The call for an autonomous Cordillera region was renewed during the 35th Sipat anniversary commemoration at Mt. Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province on Sept. 13, where provincial and regional leaders called for the government to fulfill its promise.
Bauko Mayor Abraham Akilit said autonomy would be a big help for the region in managing its resources.
“Let’s unite and continue the talks with the national government. Our past leaders never stopped talking and negotiating and that’s what we need to do also,” Akilit said.
In a recorded message, Sec. Luzverferda Pascual, Presidential Legislative Assistant of the Presidential Legislative Liaison, said his office has solicited the position of the various agencies of the Cordillera on autonomy, which they have submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his information.  
Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, in his recorded message, said they support the passage of the house bills 7778 and 5687. 
The House Committee on Ways and Means recently approved a consolidated bill for the establishment of the Autonomous Cordillera Region, allowing the bill to advance in the Lower House amid its ongoing deliberations on the proposed P5.024 trillion national budget next year.
The consolidated bill was a product of the HB 5687 authored by all Cordillera lawmakers and the HB 7778, authored by House Committee on Appropriations chair and Benguet Caretaker Rep. Eric Yap.
Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan said despite the limited window of opportunity to establish an autonomous Cordillera during the Duterte administration, he is hopeful the national government would soon heed the call for self-determination in the highlands.
The 1986 Mt. Data Sipat agreement is the first peace pact successfully entered into by the national government during the administration of former President Corazon Aquino.
On Sept. 13, 1986, the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army led by slain renegade priest Conrado Balweg heeded Aquino’s call through the forging of a peace agreement at the Mt. Data Hotel.
The agreement allowed both sides to begin negotiating peace, leading to the issuance of Executive Order 220 on July 15, 1987, which created the Cordillera Administrative Region. – Ofelia C. Empian