BAGUIO CITY—The proposed federal government will treat each region in the country as separate states, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) assistant secretary Ana Marie Rafael-Banaag said here Wednesday.
Banaag, who was the former Municipal Mayor of Natonin, Mountain Province, said the President, being a lawyer, was aware of the struggle of the Cordillerans and Bangsa Moro for self-determination.
Banaag accompanied Assistant Secretary Ramon Coaloping III who served as the guest of honor and speaker during the 107th Baguio Charter Day anniversary program held at the Baguio Convention Center.
“We support the Abueva version of dividing the country into federal states because it includes separate federal states for the Cordillera and the Bangsamoro after being neglected by the government over the past several decades,” she stressed.
The Palace official explained the Cordillera may become a separate state or it will be included in the Northern Luzon Federal State as an autonomous region.
Former Senate president Aquilino Nene Pimentel Jr., who advocates federalism, explained while there were 11 federal states in their proposal, the number of federal states could be increased in recognition of the constitutional provision that recognizes the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao, thus, the two regions will be treated as independent federal states in recognition of the contributions of indigenous peoples and lumads to the overall development of the country.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said inclusion of the Cordillera in the proposed Northern Luzon Federal State will mean inequitable sharing of state resources because of the smaller population and land area of the region.
Domogan pointed out autonomy advocates in the region support the Abueva version, “unless laws will be passed that will equalize the status of small and big regions in terms of their share from the available resources of the federal states.”
In a recent meeting with the members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera, Rep. Mark Go and Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. agreed to refile the autonomy bill but other lawmakers from the region proposed the conduct of more consultations to get more inputs on what should be included in the autonomy bill.
Go said a number of lawmakers support the Pimentel version and lectures are already being organized for the information campaign on federalism across the country prior to the passage of the federalism law.