Local autonomy and administrative decentralization has always been a part of the history of the Cordilleras, it goes way back from the Spanish period.
A glimpse of the history of the Cordillera
The old Mountain Province was composed of Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Kalinga and Apayao. But on June 1966, Republic Act No. 4695 known as the Division Law divided the old Mountain Province into four regular and independent provinces namely Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province and Kalinga-Apayao. Abra was a separate independent province lodged with Ilocos Sur.
In 1972 , Presidential Order No. 1(Regionalization Law) divided the whole country into 13 regions. Abra, Benguet, Mt. Province and Baguio became part of Region I while Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao were included in Region 2. Efforts calling for the creation of a new separate Cordillera region failed.
Movements for local autonomy and administrative decentralization has always been a part of the history of the Cordilleras, starting from the Spanish colonial period to the American period. The Chico dam and Cellophil projects in the 1970s ushered the emergence of a new consciousness in the region.
The 1970s and the 80’s marked the rise of organizations to defend the land and the rights of people and to advocate autonomy but with different views.
April 24, 1985
April 24 was declared as the Cordillera Bodong Day by the Cordillera Bodong Administration while the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) declared it as Macli-ing Memorial Day. This was in honor of all who died in defense of the rights of the Cordillera people in the struggle for self-determination.
September 13, 1986
President Corazon C. Aquino met with representatives of the Cordillera Bodong Administration and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army under then Fr. Conrado Balweg for the exchange of peace tokens to signify the “sipat”(cessation of hostilities) and acknowledged their aspirations for Cordillera Autonomy. A joint memorandum of agreement was signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the CPLA which provided a cessation of hostilities between the two groups.
The new Philippine Constitution was ratified. Section 1, Article X provides for the creation of an autonomous region in the Cordilleras. Section 15, Article X also provides that the autonomous region in the Cordillera shall consists of provinces and cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of the Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.
The CPA was in the forefront lobbying for the inclusion of an autonomous region in the Cordillera.
July 15, 1987
President Corazon C. Aquino signed Executive Order 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) composed of the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao (still one province then), Mountain Province and the City of Baguio. Baguio City has been designated as seat of regional government .
Created under EO 220 were the three regional bodies - the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) as the policy formulating body which shall articulate and harmonize the interests and aspirations of the peoples of the Cordillera; the Cordillera Executive Board (CEB) as development body and implementing arm of CAR; and Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA) as a commission to promote respect for the customs and cultural traditions of the tribes concerned.
The CAR has three purposes:
- Administer the affairs of government in the region.
- Accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units of the region.
- Prepare for the establishment of autonomous region in the Cordilleras.
In September 1987, Administrative Order 36 was issued directing the establishment of line departments in the newly-created region.
President Aquino appointed 22 regular members of the CEB. Other members were appointed much later. The first session of the CEB was held at the Mansion House on April 9, 1988.
Opening session of the Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC) which was tasked to assist Congress in preparing an Organic Act establishing an autonomous region in the Cordillera.
January 30, 1990
Overwhelming rejection of the Organic Act (Republic Act 6766) crafted by the Congress of the Philippines. Only the province of Ifugao ratified the Organic Act.
Supreme Court ruled that Ifugao cannot make up CAR and EO 220 still in force and in effect until properly repealed or amended.
20 August 1991
The Regional Development Council in CAR was organized with Benguet Governor Andres Bugnosen as Chairman. Subsequent CEB Executive Directors automatically became the RDC Chairman.
President Fidel V. Ramos in his visit urged Cordillera leaders to unite and draft a new organic act.
Joint CEB-CRA-Regional Line Agencies acting as the Regional Development Council with chairmanship still lodged with CEB Executive Director.
The Cordillera Leaders Forum formally launched a massive autonomy consultations in CAR.
07 March 1998
Plebiscite for the ratification of the second Organic Act (RA 8438) for the creation of an autonomous region in CAR was again rejected with only the province of Apayao ratifying it.
14 June 2000
President Joseph Estrada issued a memorandum directing the winding up of operations of CAR Bodies
20 July 2000
Executive Order 270 Extending the winding up of operations of CAR Bodies.
18 December 2000
Memorandum Order 128 creating an oversight committee to oversee and coordinate all preparatory work necessary to the winding up of operations of CAR Bodies.
30 July 2001
Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued EO 30 providing for the establishment of CAR Regional Development Council. This also provided that EO 325 (reorganization of RDCs) will be applicable to CAR which means the region will have regular RDC set up similar to other regions.
Pres. Arroyo appointed then Benguet Governor Raul Molintas as RDC Chairman with then University of Baguio President Dr. Virgilio C. Bautista as co- chairman.
The RDC is composed of provincial governors, the city mayor, mayors of provincial capitals, presidents of the provincial mayor’s league, regional agencies under the NEDA Board, other identified agencies, sectoral private representatives and geographic private sector representatives.
02 May 2002
Pres. Arroyo issued Administrative Order 34 formally resurrecting the Cabinet Officers for Regional Development (CORD). Secretary Silvestre C. Afable Jr was appointed CORD for the Cordillera.
Pres. Arroyo appointed Mt. Province Governor Maximo Dalog as the RDC chairman. Dr. Virgilio Bautista, public sector representative for Baguio was re-appointed as co- chairman. The RDC officials’ term will end June 2007.
The RDC –CAR has a total of 55 members-53 regular and two special non-voting members.
25 October 2004
Pres. Arroyo appointed former Sagada Mayor Thomas A Killip as Presidential Assistant for Cordillera. He chairs the Regional Kalahi Convergence Group, an inter-agency group created to formulate and implement anti-poverty programs and projects in the region.
CAR’s Development Vision
We, the people of the Cordilleras, proud of our culture rooted in spirituality, shall truly have an autonomous region of a unified, enlightened and empowered citizenry who shall pursue sustainable development where responsibilities and benefits are equitably shared by all.
RDC Mission Statement
The Regional Development Council is the primary institution to unify and coordinate all efforts toward the development of the region as:
- Bastion of rich indigenous culture and knowledge
- Champion of good governance
- Physically integrated and accessible
- Watershed cradle;
- Family-oriented eco-tourist destination;
- Major energy producer;
- Prime educational center;
- Food basket; and
- Agri and light industry producer for an improved quality of life for the people of the Cordilleras.
- Prioritization of the Cordillera Road Improvement Project (CRIP) component roads such as the rehabilitation of the Baguio –Rosario Road(Marcos Highway), Baguio-Aritao Road, Halsema Highway among others.
- Adoption of the Master Plan on Alternative Transport Systems in CAR.
- Completion of the Cordillera Energy Producer Master Plan.
- Intensified the Regional Project Monitoring Committee and their local counterparts in monitoring projects.
- Implementation/consolidation of UE-assisted rural development programs such as CECAP, CHARMP, CASCADE
- Updating of the Regional Investment Promotional Materials
- Supported festivals and other tourism-related activities such as the Explore the Gran Cordillera Trail” and Gran Cordillera Fest to promote the region’s mix of natural beauty, refreshing climate and distinctive physical endowment
- Initiated capability building programs for RDC secretariat and support staff
- Supported claim of Baguio City which resulted to the President allowing the turnover of the Baguio Convention Center to the City for a minimal fee
- Adoption of the Cordillera Prime Education Center Master Plan designed to maintain the region’s competitive edge as the prime educational center north of Luzon with its high caliber tertiary educational and technical vocational schools
- Facilitated the implementation of the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (KALAHI) convergence activities
- Creation of the Committee on Indigenous People’s Concerns in the RDC
Source: Cordillera Regional Development Council / Cordi-Link