The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Philippines Office, recently concluded a two-day learning visit to the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The visit aimed to engage with local and regional officials, as well as civil society, to deepen understanding of the nuances of the region’s pursuit for autonomy. The 2-day itinerary was packed with insightful engagements, offering a window into the region's journey towards self-governance and empowerment.


The IAG and KAS delegation met with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong for a courtesy call over lunch on April 4, 2024. The meeting, led by KAS Country Representative Daniela Braun and IAG Executive Director Benedicto Bacani, alongside BARMM Member of Parliament Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, set a tone of collaboration and shared commitment towards fostering democratic practices.


Subsequently, a roundtable discussion conducted in partnership with the Cordillera Alliance for Autonomy, Peace and Development, Inc. (CAAPDI) that centered on House Bill 3267, aimed at establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region, offered a platform for stakeholders to exchange perspectives and insights. Mayor Magalong's office, represented by Chief of Staff Samantha Hamada, extended a warm welcome, emphasizing the region's enduring quest for autonomy deeply ingrained in the aspirations of its Indigenous peoples.


MP Baintan Adil-Ampatuan drew parallels between the Cordillera Organic Act and the Bangsamoro Organic Law, highlighting the importance of fiscal autonomy provisions. Representative Mark Go provided updates on the bill's progress, detailing ongoing discussions and collaborations with various government agencies.


A panel discussion further explored fiscal autonomy and block grants. This engagement provided participants with an opportunity to address concerns and seek clarification. The discussion underscored the complexity and importance of financial mechanisms in achieving regional autonomy.


The second day involved courtesy calls with officials from Benguet, Mountain Province, and Kalinga. The IAG and KAS delegation met with Governors Melchor Diclas (Benguet) and Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. (Mountain Province), Tinglayan Mayor Sacrament Gumilab (Kalinga), and other provincial officials from Kalinga.


These meetings provided valuable insights into the region's development priorities, aspirations for good governance, and shared hopes for greater autonomy. The delegation departed with a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding autonomy and good governance in the Cordillera Region. The local officials' commitment to their constituents was evident, a testament to the region's resilience and determination.


Looking ahead, IAG and KAS expressed eagerness to explore collaboration opportunities stemming from these productive engagements.