State of the region address cordillera administrative region
STATE OF THE CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION ADDRESSDr. Virgilio C. BautistaRDC-CAR Co-Chairman31 July 2012, Baguio Convention CenterLooking Back with prideThis month of July, we observe the 25th anniversary of our Cordillera Region with the theme “Lookingback with Pride, Moving forward with Hope”. We celebrate a milestone in our people’s quest to securewhat is rightfully our heritage as a Cordilleran. Twenty five years ago, a “sipat” or Peace Agreement wassigned at Mount Data, Bauko, Mountain Province, between President Corazon C. Aquino and the leadersof the Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army .What were the implications of this historic event?First, it was a clear signal for autonomy as the framers of our 1987 Constitution acknowledged that theCordilleras is unique among the regions of the country. History will show how our indigenous peoplestood their ground to defend their land against the invaders, thus, preserving these distinct culture andtraditions. One will not find any Spanish designed Catholic church in the Mountain Provinces.Second, the struggle for recognition of indigenous people’s rights including autonomy will now befought through peaceful means as opposed to the bloody armed struggle that occurred especially duringtheCelloPhil project and the Chico River Dam Systems.Executive Order 220 created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). We acknowledge the efforts ofthe Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army, the Cordillera Executive Board, the Cordillera RegionalAssembly, the Cordillera Bodong Administration as well as people and institutions who have activelyparticipated in providing the initial benchmarks for political framework with which Cordillera autonomycan be based from.25 years after, where are we now?a. Recognition of IP rightsRepublic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA Law) recognizes and protects theindigenous peoples’ rights. They embarked in the formulation of their Ancestral Domain SustainableDevelopment and Protection Plan (ADSDPPs) that will become a tribal ‘constitution’, a bindingdocument to uphold, protect and promote their human rights, preserve their ways of living and ensuretheir rights to self-governance and self-determination. Out of 111 Ancestral Domains identified in theregion, 30 have ADSDPPs and 12 have ongoing formulations. There are also 20 Certificate of AncestralDomain Titles ( CADT) issued, or 15 percent of the CADTs issued nationwide, and 224 Certificate ofAncestral Land Titles ( CALT) issued in the region, which accounts for 87 percent of CALTs nationwide.
b. Economy –CAR contribution to National EconomyOur economy has grown over the years reaching 122.410 billion pesos in 2011 at 2000 constant prices.Latest data show our continuous growth at 6.3 percent in 2010 and 2.1 percent in 2011.The major source ofour economic growth is the industry sector, accounting for 53 percent of regionalgross output; the service sector contributed 36% and agriculture added 10 percent. Sadly, the leastmoneyproductive sector – agriculture remains our biggest employer, while industry which is the mostmoney productive sector employs the least number of people.c. Infrastructure: CRIP RoadsIn the 1950’s to the early 90’s there were few good roads to really speak ofand no inter-regional roadstowards the northern provinces of CAR. Thanks to the Cordillera Roads Improvement Project ( CRIP),the region’s road network has significantly improved through the years. As of 2011, only 49% of CARnational roads were paved compared to the nation’s 78%. Baguio City is 100 percent while Apayao is32.42 percent only. In relation to national development, CAR has the least roads pavement. We are atthe losing end as national policies remain favorable to lowland over upland areas.d. PovertyPoverty remains a problem. This is even as we have successfully scaled down poverty incidence offamilies in more recent years, from 32% in 1991 to 17.1% as of 2009.However, the gap across provinces remains wide. Benguet, which includes the highly urbanized city ofBaguio was the top performer among eighty provinces throughout the country with a 4.0 percentpoverty incidence rate. But, the rest of the provinces have poverty incidence rates above the regionaland national averages – Kalinga at 19.3 percent; Ifugao at 21.3%, Abra at 33.3%, Mountain Province at33.8 percent and Apayao at 36.3%.The 2008 Human Development Index follows the same trend with the good standing of Benguet rankedas the highest HDI nationwide. Yet, the other CAR provinces were at middle to bottom positions withAbra at 24th, Ifugao at 45th, Mountain Province at 48th, Apayao at 64th and Kalinga at 65th.e. EnvironmentCAR is said to be the Watershed Cradle of North Philippines supplying water for irrigation, powergeneration and industrial needs within and outside the region. But, of the region’s total land area, only15 percent is classified as alienable and disposable while the remaining 1.551 million hectares are forestland. The limited A & D land has resulted to negative impacts on forestlands with expanding needs forsettlement and livelihood. Latest information on CAR’s land cover show 47 percent of non forest usesexceeding maximum standard of 40 percent.The drop in forest cover has impacted on the biodiversity and water resources of the region. 2005 datafrom the Department of Energy revealed that there was 53 percent power generation turn-over
implying a 47 percent under capacity operation of power generation facilities. This is aggravated bydeclining water supply which affects the functioning of hydro-power turbines.The other regions acknowledge CAR’s importance as supplier of their water needs and are increasinglyalarmed on the state of our region’s watersheds. Nevertheless, while CAR has a special role to play, itmust be accorded compensation in ensuring that watersheds are in good condition.Where do we go from here? Remaining and Continuing Challenge:Evidently, there is a significant progress in the past 25 years. The Regional Development Council thoughbelieves that we can accomplish much more under an autonomous set up where we will be accordedthe right to manage our natural resources and safeguard our assets, while we are expected to beresponsible and nurturing stewards as our ancestors taught us.In 1990 and 1998 we witnessed the rejection of the concept of self-rule. We construe this not anti-autonomy but of the great enthusiasm over the promises of progress that a Cordillera AdministrativeRegion set up would bring us without the need of becoming autonomous.But this enthusiasm over the current scheme gradually diminished over the years as we now realize theover valuation we have initially placed in a regular administration. We still remain one of the poorlydeveloped regions in the country under this system inspite of our vast and rich natural resources whichthe country heavily relies on.Inspired by the region’s Vision, in March 2006, the RDC renewed the pursuit on autonomy and proposedregional autonomy as the region’s overarching theme for Cordillera development. In August 2010, theRDC-CAR created the Third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee that launched region-wide consultationsthat led to a Third Organic Act in August 2011. This was subsequently endorsed to our CongressionalRepresentatives in October 2011. In December 6, 2011, the proposed Autonomy Act was filed as HouseBill 5595 coauthored by five CAR congressmen and as Senate Bill 3115 in February 2012.It is time to acknowledge the growth of the Cordilleras after 25 years. This must include the acceptanceof new traditions that are beneficial to the people of the Cordilleras. It is time to renew and strengthenthe efforts of the struggle for autonomy through a peaceful political exercise.
Remaining and Continuing Challenges for CAR’s Future Development: Highlights of the 2011-2016Regional Development PlanSo where is the Cordillera Region headed ? Let me outline to you the highlights of our developmentagenda for 2012-2016 and beyond: On cultural integrity and identity, we shall try our best to exude the beautiful character of the Indigenous People embracing social justice,recognizing human rights, love for peace and the practice of traditional prayer rituals. Let us always value the most notable remnant of our advanced culture, the Ifugao Rice Terraces which the UNESCO has declared as the first living cultural landscape in the country and a World Heritage site, plus the process of mummification which the Bontoc, Ibaloi and Kankanai tribes developed many centuries ago. On poverty reduction, we shall accelerate growth of our economy that would result in improved quality of life and total human development of all Cordillerans . On sustained economic growth, we shall make an effort to have full employment and diversify our sources of growth taking advantage of the region’s areas of comparative advantage and specialization. On sustainable use of natural resources, CAR shall play a key role in promoting ecological balance not only in North Luzon but in the whole country by advancing its role as the Watershed Cradle of North Philippines. The national government must compensate the host communities of the sources of water. On regional integration, we shall continue to develop an efficient reliable transportation and communications network to interconnect provincial capitals and major growth centers serving as socio-economic backbone of the region. On regional autonomy, we shall vigorously pursue the constitutional provisions embodied in the 1987 Philippine Constitution for the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordilleras so as to hasten the proper socio-economic development of our region that has been neglected and deprived by the national government.We would like to express our deepest thanks to Congress and the people behind the support of HouseBill 5595 and Senate Bill 3115 signaling the commencement of political debate on the Third AutonomyAct for the Cordillera.With Regional Autonomy, we are confident of growing our economy at a faster and more sustained ratewhile ensuring a better quality of life of every Cordilleran, as we live in a multi-cultural society with ashared common vision. We, in the RDC, pray and hope that you will be one with us in this long anddifficult journey towards the advancement of our beloved Cordillera.Thank you for your support anda pleasant day to everyone!