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PIA Press Release

RDC reiterates autonomy still key to CAR development

by Lito Dar

Baguio City (30 January) -- The Cordillera provinces have improved a lot since we became an administrative region, though in a scale of ten we are still at seven or still far, in terms of development compared to Regions 1 and 2.

Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) acting chair and NEDA Director Juan Ngalob made this statement in a Kapihan forum, Wednesday.

According to Ngalob, it is still up to the people of Cordillera to do better even as he stressed that it is o high time for the Cordillerans to seriously consider the region's autonomy agenda because it really offers an opportunity to remove hindrances and provide choices in achieving regional development.

Ngalob also stressed that the RDC is on track with its regional development and autonomy programs and projects. This was substantiated by reports from RDC Sectoral Committee heads, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Myrna Pablo for economic development, Department of Health Director Dr. Myrna Cabotaje for social development and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional Director Patrick Onus for development administration.

For this year, Ngalob said that the RDC still needs to refine its autonomy drive as it hopes for the approval of an additional funding from the national government for such purpose. The RDC also plans to have another survey this year on the Cordilleran's present views on autonomy, he added.

Onus disclosed that in their Information, Education and Communication for government functionaries in the different provinces, they did not get a general consensus of the LGUs, but they have generated numerous comments, views and suggestions which they plan to be interpreted by a technical group for a better IEC campaign.

Onus also shared that majority of the municipalities have not yet improve in terms of municipality class as they still rely mostly on assistance from the national government. "Without autonomy, LGUs are not capable of exercising their power and functions to be more self-reliant and we cannot develop the region through the RDC alone," he added.

Department of Budget and Management Regional Director Liza Fangsilat confirmed that 90 to 95 percent of municipalities in CAR are Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) dependent. CAR has the second lowest, after CARAGA, in IRA share, though per capita based, we are one of the highest (IRA share) because of our low population. Under an autonomous state, "LGUs can manage and operate its own resources and generate its own income," Fangsilat said.

Meantime, RDC Private Sector Representative and Baguio City Centennial Commission Chairman, Dr Virgilio Bautista agreed that most municipal governments cannot make good projects when there are no adequate funds.

"As an administrative region, the national government still dictates what should happen but if we become an autonomous region, we will be the one to decide and all the funding from the national will continue, dadagdagan pa nila ng additional fund to jumpstart the development of the region. Kailangan natin ng autonomy, if we want to improve or develop the region," Bautista said. (PIA) [top]

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