“Nabayagen ti naglabas a panawen. Ubbing kami pay idi nangrugi ti tongtongan ti maipanggep iti otonomiya. Lallakay ken babbaket kamin tatta a panawen ngem isu latta ti matongtong. Adda pay ngata namnama a maipatungpal ti pudno nga otonomiya?” – Statement of an elder from Apayao
At least 162 elders, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives, local government officials and representatives of people’s organizations from the six provinces of the Cordillera and Baguio City gathered for the Cordillera Elders Workshop on Regional Autonomy held at the Gladiola Hall, Benguet State University, La Trinidad, Benguet from August 29-30, 2016. The workshop successfully culminated with a declaration reiterating the Cordillera indigenous peoples’ stand for genuine regional autonomy and support to the ongoing peace talk between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The elders’ declaration highlighted the importance of grassroots information, education and campaign on autonomy, its basic content and features. They also reiterated the importance of consultations with different stakeholders, organizations and groups on the root causes of the problems of the Cordillera peoples and to come up with appropriate and comprehensive plan.
The elders’ declaration strongly calls on all the Cordillera politicians and main proponents of House Bill 4649 not to refile the bill at the House of Representatives. The elders stated that the bill does not embody the substance of genuine recognition of the collective rights of the Cordillera indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands and right to self-determination. In fact, the HB4649 allows the disintegration of the territoriality of the Cordillera. The elders said that a provision of the bill to allow two provinces to form an autonomous region is totally unacceptable.
In addition, the elders’ declaration expressed support for the crafting of a new bill that will truly recognize and uphold the rights to ancestral land and right to self-determination of the Cordillera indigenous peoples thru a democratic process with the participation of elders.
The Cordillera Elders Workshop on Regional Autonomy was a joint collaboration of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, National Economic Development Authority-Cordillera Administrative Region, Cordillera Elders Alliance, and Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges.***
Cordillera Elders Alliance