BAGUIO – DSWD held the “Strengthening Community Participation in Local Development” activity last October 3 where barangay officials from Sadanga, Mountain Province, Tinoc, Ifugao and Villaviciosa, Abra strengthened their participatory local governance. Discussions on Cordillera autonomy provided an avenue to give the workshop a regional context. The RDC, through NEDA, provided autonomy IEC resources and collaterals for the implementation of the event.

Autonomy IEC speakers Alma Toyoken and Vladimir Cayabas shared their insights and thoughts about Cordillera autonomy. Cayabas noted that the pursuit of autonomy goes hand in hand with federalism. As a member of the Regional Development Council (RDC), he emphasized that the official position of the RDC is autonomy towards federalism. He added, “agkakabsat dagita autonomy ken federalism, agstrengthen pay (autonomy and federalism are like siblings, they strengthen each other)”

The activity aimed to address the flaws of past campaigns for Cordillera autonomy which were plagued by lack of information dissemination and rampant misinformation. Dr. Agustin Guinid from Ifugao thanked the speakers and recalled that in his early years, “ununana adda ti reservation ko daytoy nga autonomy ngem idi in-explicar ni Father Balweg dagitoy benefits iti autonomy kasla met panagexplain ni speaker tayu tatta, naikkat dagijay nga duadua kon (at first I had my reservations about autonomy but when Father Balweg explained the benefits of autonomy like how our speaker today explained it, my doubts were removed)”.

DSWD Cordillera has continued to be am active partner and advocate of regional autonomy. Last year, they brought awareness of the autonomy advocacy to the grassroots and reached over 800 stakeholders through their activities.

Since 2006, the Regional Development Council Cordillera, in which the DSWD is a member and NEDA as the secretariat, has adopted Cordillera autonomy as the central theme of regional development. Through its Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) program, NEDA Cordillera has led the way in raising awareness and gaining support for regional autonomy which is focused on attaining sustainable development and just and lasting peace in the region. #Marlo T. Lubguban, NEDA-SPCAR

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