Historical Background of Cordillera's Pursuit for Regional Development and Autonomy



The old Mt. Province which was composed of Benguet, ifugao, Bontoc, Kalinga and Apayao was treated as one administrative unit.

1966 June 18

RA No. 4695 known as Division Law, divided the old Mt. Province into four regular and independent provinces; Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province and Kalinga-Apayao; Abra had been a separate independent province.


Presidential Order #1 (Regionalization Law) divided the whole country into13 regions. Benguet, Mt. Province and Baguio were Included under Region I while Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao were included under Region II


Cellophil Resources Corporation (CRC) and Cellulose Processing Corporation were awarded 197,346.25 hectares. This extended across Abra, Mt. Province, Kalinga-Apayao and some parts of llocos Norte and llocos Sur. Most affected tribe was the Tinguian (Itneg) of Abra, whose lands were located in the CRC-CPC concessions. This event marred the birth of arm struggle in the region since democratic means proved inutile.

1975 November

Presidential Assistant on National Minorities (PANAMIN), headed Mando Elizalde entered Kalinga with the mission to minimize opposition against the building of the Chico Dam.


In 1976 the governors of the four provinces and local leaders forwarded a resolution to President Marcos asking for a separate region for the old Mountain Province coverage. But the request had not been granted.

Assemblymen or representatives in Congress of Ifugao and Baguio namely Jess Paredes and Honorato Aquino respectively filed separate bills in the Batasan for a separate Mountain Province Region. The bills also did not prosper.

1978 September 24-25

First inter-tribal peace pact meeting between the government and CRC representatives at Bangilo, Malibcong, Abra.

The.tribes demanded: (1.) Recognition of their rights.. to private farms, communal forests, pastures and watersheds; (2) .Rivers should not be, used to transport logs; and (3) CRC asserted its rights based on the license granted by the national government. These demands were signed by 1265 tribe members.

1979 January 25-26

Second Inter-tribal meeting, was held at Tiempo-Tubo, Abra. This was attended by Tlnguian Bontoc and Kankanal representatives who affirmed their continued opposition to CRC.

The United Communities of the Cordilleras (UCC) was formed. It requested for the withdrawal of the CRC license but the government instead accused the tribes and UCC subversives and the government also increased mllltary.presence in the area.

1979 March 30-31

The third Inter-tribe meeting was held at Bangilo, Malibcong, Abra to discuss solid unity in protecting "valued peace pact and cooperation which affect us". This was sabotaged by the governor through the mayor who invited the 'members of 'the tribe to a seminar in Bangued,. Abra, with the hidden purpose orgnizing them to counter UCC. The UCC was 'short-lived' because of the harassment and arrest of Its leaders and supporters by the military.

A number of Tinguians joined the NPA including Fr. Balweg.

1982 March 9

The preliminary Congress of tribal leaders, led by mostly from Mt. Province and Kalinga was held in Bugnay, Tinglayan Kalinga-Apayao to assess the Bodong, inter-ftribal federation which had been seriously weakened by the PANAMIN..

The Kalinga-Bontoc Peace Pact Holders Association (KBPHA), a loose federation was formed to sustain opposition on the construction of Chico Dam. They sent their delegations to the United States to articulate their plight opposing the implementation of the project.

1983 December 28-29

KBPHA held its first Congress at Buscalan, Tingiayan, Kalinga. They decided to expand the membership to Include Benguet and Ifugao.

1984 January 23

Second KBPHA congress was held in Bontoc, Mt. Province. Benguet and Ifugao expressed their desire to join KBPHA. At that date the name was formally changed to Cordillera Badong Association,

1985 April 24

April 24 was declared as the Cordillera Bodong (Nation) Day by CBA while CPA declared it as Macliing Memorial Day. The former was declared In order to honor all who died In defense of the rights of the Cordillera people In the struggle for self determination.

1986 February 25

Corazon C. Aquino was catapulted to the Presidency. She called for peace reconciliation with all revolutionary forces opposed to the government.

1986 September 13

A “sipat” was performed between the CPLA and the Republic of the Philippines at Mt. Data Hotel in Bauko, Mt. Province as a first step towards peace talks in the Cordilleras.

Meanwhile the Cordillera Peoples Alliance carried out a persistent and sustained lobby among ConCom members to provide for a Cordillera autonomous region in the new constitution.

1986 October 13

The BIBAK Professionals' Association in cooperation with the then Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities (OMACC), sponsored a regionwide conference consultation meeting. Delegates from Ifugao, Benguet and Mt. Province endorse Regional Autonomy Kalinga-Apayao, Abra and Baguio were not definite on their stand.

1986 November

Preparatory Committee for Peace Talk was formed pursuant to the Initial peace agreements at Mt. Data. Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC) was formally organized at the Baguio Convention Center with Atty. Moises Cating as chairman and Mr. Ben Andaya as Vice-chair.

The Preparatory Peace Committee met with CBA-CPLA and CBC at Mt. Data Lodge to out basis for unity and procedures to be followed in subsequent meetings. They passed the following documents:

  1. Petition to create an autonomous region;
  2. Resolution of CBC supporting the cancellation of Chico Dam;
  3. Resolution urging Philippine Government to continue with the peace negotiations even after the establishment of an administrative region.

A draft of a proposal for Cordillera Regional Development Council (CRDC) was made by a committee composed of CBA-CPLA, CBC and LGUs. The proposed CRDC Is composed of an Executive Council with 21 members and a General Assembly composed of 76 members.

The Cordillera Bodong Association was changed to Cordillera Bodong Administration to signify its readiness to be considered as a government unit..

1986 December

Opening of Peace Talks at the Mansion, Baguio City.

President Aquino recognized CPLA as the "de facto'1 peace keeping force of the Cordilleras.

Cordillera and government panels met and endorsed the Cordillera Regional Development Council (CRDC) to the President.

1987 February 2

The proposed constitution drafted by the ConCom was ratified in a plebiscite, making it the effectivity date of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It included provisions on the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordilleras under Article 10, sections 15 to 21.


CBA-CPLA decided to change their spokespersons. Decided to resubmlt 26 demands to the National Government and to represent themselves in the negotiation.


Butz Aquino met with the CBC and CBA-CPLA. They agreed that a committee of four be formed to draft an Executive Order for an Interim Cordilera Autonomous Region (ICAR), The committee was composed of.Fr. Conrado Balweg, Candido Basbasan (CBA-CPLA), Fr. Patricfo Guyguyon and Rene Cortes (CBC).


CBC, CBA-CPLA representatives met to discuss provisions of an E.O. . CBC disagreed with several major provisions. CBA-CPLA- met with CBC to avoid ..an impending rift due to major disagreements the ICAR-draft. CBC and CBA-CPLA split-up due to disagreements on certain provisions in the draft E.O.creating CAR


Signing of the-Interim Cordillera Regional Administration at Mansion house. this contained the following features:

1. Cordillera Regional Assembly composed of not more than 200 members;

2. CEB composed of 25 members;

3. CBA to be one of the several Executive Committees;

4. CPLA to be the regional peace keeping force; and

5. Control and management of KSDA to be transferred to CBA.


Consultation between President Aquino and the Cordillera Congressmen regarding increasing the membership of the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) to 250 from 200, CEB membership to 29 and CPLA be changed. to Cordillera Regional Security Force, the term "pangat" be changed to chairman, CBA from executive committee to a commission within the region, requirement of a plebiscite to a no plebiscite for the . E.O. and charge of iCRA to CAR (CORDILLERA Administrative Region),

1987 July 15

President Aquino signed Executive Order No. 220 creating the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with the following purposes: (1) administer the affairs of government in the region; (2) accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units of the region; (3) prepare for the establishment of the autonomous region in the Cordilleras.


President Aquino signed Administrative Order No.36, directing the establishment of regional offices of the line departments In the newly created region.


CAR Conference II was held at Mansion" House, with the theme "Taking the Initiative", and with Fernando Bahatan Jr. as chairman. The following resolutions were passed;

  1. Request for President Aquino to Immediately constitute the CEB;
  2. Request for the President to cause the transfer of some properties of defunct MHS to the CBA and to cause the release of special fund for Information dissemination of E.0. 220;
  3. Request for the President to turn-over the operation and management of station D2RK- (Radyo ng Bayan Kallnga) and DZEQ (Radyo ng Bayan Baguio) to the bureau of Broadcast Services to CAR;
  4. Submitting to the PMS the major Output of CAR conference; and
  5. List of candidates for regional directorship position was made.


President Aquino appointed 22 regular members of the CEB and they took their oath of office at Malacanang. Other CEB members were appointed much later


Opening of the first session of CEB at the Mansion with Director Basilio Cael as the temporary chairman pending the appointment of a regular Executive Director


House Bill 1348 authored by six Congressmen passed third reading. This bill sought to amend EO 220 by scraping provisions on CBA, the CRA and CRSF and increasing the exposition of the CEB.


Opening session of Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC) which was tasked to assist Congress in preparing an Organic Act at the Baguio Convention Center, Abrino Aydlnan was elected chairman of CRCC. CRCC submitted final draft of the Organic Act establishing autonomous Region in the Cordillera to both Houses of the Philippine Congress.

1990 January 30

RA 6766 (An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region) was overwhelmingly rejected in a plebiscite. Only the province of Ifugao voted in favor of the Organic Act


Memorandum was issued by Executive Secretary Franklin M. Drilon ordering the CEB and CRA to wind up their affairs In the region, even before a ruling by COMELEC was issued as to their status. CBA did not comply they continued their affairs.


COMELEC. Resolution no- 22599 rules that the Organic Act has been ratified only in Ifugao. Secretary of Justice issued a memorandum to the President citing that only the province or city which favorably voted shall be included in the CAR.


Congress -enacted RA 6861 postponing the election in the CAR of Ifugao to 1 March 1991.


Alexgnder Ordilio et. Al of Ifugao (member of the Ifugao Tribal Federation, ah affiliate of CBA) filed petition with COMELEC to declare non-ratification of the Organic Act based on plebiscite results. COMELEC noted petitions.

Under the, premise that the Organic Act was ratified, CEB, CRA and other offices "and agencies created under. EO220 are deemed abolished. President Aquino issued AO 160 providing: 1) Integrity of CAR be maintained until the organization, of the Cordillera Autonomous Region. 2) Regional offices and agencies of the national government established In the region pursuant to AO 36 are to continue serving the region. 3) CORD in coordination with PMS and NEDA secretariat is to organize the RDC and Regional Development Assembly of the Region.


The Supreme Court of the Philippines in GR# 93054 upheld the position. of the CBA Ifugao petitioners. AO 160 and RA 6861 were declared null and void while EO 220 is still in force and in effect until properly repealed or amended.


Supreme Court dismissed petitions of CBC on the unconstitutionality of EO 220


President Aquino designated Gov. Andres Bugnosen of Benguet as the Acting Executive Director of the CEB and Mr. Francisco Paraan as the Acting Chairman of CRA. However CRA members did not allow Paraan to convene but instead Chairman Kawi continue to act as Chairman

1990 December 4

The Supreme Court (1) reversed the COMELEC ruling: the lone province of Ifugao cannot alone constitute the autonomous region and (2) declared that EO 220 is still in force and effect until properly repealed or amended.


With COMELEC issuing a ruling that Ifugao can constitute the autonomous region, Ordillo, et. al. file a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the COMELEC ruling.


CEB was reogranized. Hilarion Pawid was elected Executive Director over Dirs. Oscar Cadelina and Joel Obar

October 1992

President Ramos visited Bagulo City and the Cordillera and urges the Cordillera Leaders to unite and draft a new Organic Act.An Ad Hoc committee of 11 members representing different sectors was organized to redraft an Organic Act upon verbal instruction of the President.


SB 1496 was filed by Senator Raul Roco based on the CRA draft Organic Act.

The creation of a new CRCC proposed in November.

NGOs "met with PA Alabanza, Atty. P. Lagustan and other representatives regarding the creation of a new CRCC. Cordillera Leaders voted that 30 members compose of the CRCC to be equally distributed among the 6 legislative districts (5 provinces and 1 city). The duration given for them to finish their work 6 months.


CEB Resolution 01 S. 1994 supported the approval of HB 11651. This proposes the creation of a CRCC to assist Congress draft d new Organic Act.

A Special congress to resolve the issue emanating from the CBA-CPLA group was convened. The CBA-CPLA. headed by Fr. Balweg was recognized as the only legitimate organization.


Cordillera Leaders Forum (CLF) convene at club John Hay to formally launch a massive Autonomy consultations in CAR.


CLF through CEB OIC Executive Director Gaspar Cayat and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan hand the draft/refined Organic Act based on HB 3719 to President Fidel V, Ramos during his out-of town Cabinet meeting in Kabugao, Apayao.

A nine man committee created by the President, It was headed by -CORD-CAR Victor O. Ramos submitted Its output to the President in turn It was endorsed as Urgent Administration Bill titled " An Act Providing for the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Amending for the Purpose R.A. 6766."

1996 September 11

First Committee hearing of the certified Organic Act by the Committee on Local government chaired by Cong. Ciriaco Alfelor.

1996 October 2

Second congressional hearing. It was snag by House Bill 1422 introduced by Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan, creating CAR as regular region. It passed in a committee hearing.


Third congressional Hearing, it was snag again, whether R. A. 6766 is a dead or living law, despite position paper presented by CEB, CRA and Office of Northern Cultural Communities stating that R.A. 6766 Is existing law.


Fourth committee hearing of the Certified Urgent bill to th committee of Congressman Alfelor.


Committee on Local Government created a task force to prepare an acceptable draft Organic Act based on the comparative matrix of HB 3719, R.A. 6766 and CLF-Malacanang draft Organic Act.

1998 March 9

RA 8438, the second Organic Act enacted by Congress, is likewise rejected in a plebiscite by all other CAR provinces except Apayao.

2000 May

2000 General Appropriations Act (RA No. 8760) was passed by Congress with a Special Provision that virtually deactivated the CAR bodies.

2000 June 15

Atitiw, et. al. file a petition with the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Special Provision of the 2000 GAA (RA No. 8760) which in effect abolished the CAR bodies.

2000 July 20

Executive Order No. 270 was issued - per GAA 2000 wind up operations of the CAR bodies (Cordillera Executive Board, Cordillera Regional Assembly and the Cordillera Bodong Administration), provided separation benefits for CAR bodies’ officers and employees.

2001 July 30

To address the vacuum in regional coordination arising from the de-activation of the CAR bodies, President Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 30 creating a Regional Development Council for CAR following a similar structure of the regular administrative regions in the country.

2005 September 30

The Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Atitiw, et. al., that ‘The (Supreme) Court is without authority to compel the Executive Branch to implement the provisions of E.O. No. 220 or to restore its budgetary allocation to its previous level” under the principle of separation of powers.

The Supreme Court further expressed the following prayer in its ruling: “It is hoped that Congress will pass another Organic Act which is finally acceptable to the people of the Cordilleras.”

2005 November 17

During the RDC CAR Meeting in Tabuk, Kalinga the RDC Full Council passed RDC Resolution 51 requesting the Constitutional Commission to conduct an “exclusive and separate regional consultation or CAR”. This was favorably responded to by the ConCom. The strong message sent by the RDC CAR was that the CAR must always be seen and treated as a separate region with a strong solidarity and who desires to maintain its regional integrity.

2005 November 30

During the LUZONWIDE CONSULTATION OF THE CONSULTATIVE COMMISSION FOR THE PROPOSED REVISIONS OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, the attending Constitutional Commissioners promised to fight for CAR’s integrity as a separate region even under a federal state, as well as to secure and shepherd CAR’s unique concerns such as protection and recognition of Indigenous Peoples rights.

2006 March

During its Strategic Planning Workshop at Mount Data, Bauko,Mountain Province, the RDC-CAR decided to adopt the pursuit of regional autonomy as the overarching theme of Cordillera development. It took on the challenge to re-invent itself to pursue this development goal and consequently assumed the powers of the CAR bodies as defined by E.O. 220 (RDC Res, No. CAR-09, s. 2006).

In the same strategic planning workshop, the RDC conceded to its logistical limits to undertake its special actions as a re-invented organization. It, therefore, embarked on a mission to influence the Cordillera legislators to move for the restoration of the usual budget of the CAR bodies to be administered by the RDC-CAR in the pursuit of CAR'S mandate per E.O. 220.

2007 August

The RDC gained momentum in its lobbying as the national government granted it a budget of P15 Million pesos for 2007 to pursue an initial agenda in preparing the region for autonomy.

 This Report is work in progress. We invite the Readers to notify the Secretariat for any errors, corrections, or additions.

We also suggest the concerned readers to refer to other publications.

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