CREATION OF THE OFFICE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH – CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

Now it all began. . . . . . . .

In October 15, 1986, the Constitutional Commission adopted the 1986 Philippine Constitution draft, which provided for the establishment of autonomous regions in Mindanao and the Cordillera.

February 1987.  The new Philippine Constitution was ratified. . . . providing among others that “pursuant to Section 7, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, there shall be created an autonomous region in the Cordillera and Section 15, Article X of the Constitution provides that the autonomous region in the Cordillera shall consist of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas showing 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.”

On July 15, 1987, then president Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order 220 creating a Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with amendments suggested by the Cordillera congressmen and other Cordillera leaders.

What was finally agreed upon was to bring Abra, Baguio City, Mountain Province and Benguet from Region I and Kalinga, Apayao and Ifugao from Region II to the CAR.

What was previously a pipe dream was now a reality.

Just what is Executive Order 220?

In a nutshell, it mandates for the creation of a Cordillera Administrative Region, appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes.

“Whereas, pursuant to Section 14, Article X of the Constitution, the president shall provide for regional development councils or other similar bodies composed of local government officials, regional heads of departments and other government offices, and representatives from non-government organizations within the region for purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of the units therein and to accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units in the region.”

“Now, therefore, I, Corazon C. Aquino, president of the Philippines by virtue of the powers vested in me by the constitution, do hereby order and decree;”

“There is hereby created a Cordillera Administrative Region hereinafter referred to as CAR.”

Territorial Coverage.  For purposes of the CAR, the region shall consist of the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao and Mountain and the chartered city of Baguio. The national government shall provide appropriate offices therefore (Section 2).

Scope of Activity and Responsibility. The CAR shall have authority and responsibility in the region over the following:

Regional administrative system

  1. Economic, social and cultural development
  2. Agriculture, commercial and industrial development and promotion of tourism
  3. Infrastructure development
  4. Urban and rural development; protection of ancestral domain and reform
  5. Regional educational system including establishment and maintenance of educational institutions and the formulation of educational policies to cultivate the indigenous Cordillera culture and inculcate traditional values
  6. Health, sports, welfare, and social services
  7. Development of indigenous laws and political institutions, particularly that of direct democracy and collective leadership as well as the promotion of indigenous institutions and processes for conflict resolution and dispute settlement
  8. Preservation and enhancement of indigenous customs, traditions, languages and cultures
  9. Strengthening of the Bodong system
  10. Protection and preservation of the cultural identity, values, mores and norms of the various ethno-linguistic groups in the Cordillera
  11. Promotion of social justice and protection of human rights of women, children, the elderly and disadvantaged groups, as well as rights of people’s organizations.
  12. Such other matters as may be authorized by law or delegated by the president for the promotion of the general welfare.

Thus, Section 34 of Executive Number 220, in order to implement the scope and responsibility mentioned explicitly authorizes “to establish, operate and maintain regional offices insofar as necessary, which shall be headed by a regional director who shall have supervision and control thereof. The regional director, whenever necessary, shall be assisted by an assistant regional director. The regional officer shall have, within its regional area, the following functions:

Implement laws, policies, plans, programs, projects, rules and regulations of the Ministry.

  1. Provide economical, efficient and effective service to the people
  2. Coordinate with other regional offices and other agencies
  3. Coordinate with LGUs
  4. Perform such other functions as may be provided by law

Thus was born the regional office of the Department of Health in Cordillera officially known as DOH-CAR. It traces humble roots from the old administrative building of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center where, a few month later after the sighing of E.O. 220, an office of the region was provided to start recruitment to fill up positions needed by the region. The small office was run by Mr. Artemio Rivera, who was appointed Officer-in-Charge.

In June 4, 1989, Rivera formally handed over the reins of the regional office to the late Dr. Orlando Pua, who steered the DOH-CAR until July 15, 1990. The Assistant Regional Director was Dr. Juan Q. Bartolo, Jr.  The DOH-CAR had its office at BGHMC Nightingale Hall.

On July 16, 1990, Dr. Orlando Pua and Dr. Juan Bartolo officially gave the responsibility of stewardship of the DOH-CAR to incoming Dr. Juvencio Ordoña as Director IV and Dr. Martha B. Cayad-an, the assistant regional director. This also marked the unforgettable temblor that rocked the whole region at 7.7 on the richter scale. The baptism of fire for Dr. Ordona tested the mettle of the whole DOH-CAR, which even under extreme pressure and difficulty responded extremely well. But the Nightingale Hall was a total wreck, forcing transfer to the first floor of the BGHMC Administrative Building. It was also during this time that some months later, Dr. Pua successfully negotiated for the construction of the permanent regional office of DOH-CAR. Dr. Ordoña moved out June 30, 1997.  Dr. Eriberto M. Policar came to DOH-CAR as the nest Regional Director from July 1, 1997 to November 12, 2001.

From humble beginnings, the CHD-CAR has grown hand-in-hand with the Cordillera Administrative Region, thanks in part by the stroke of the pen that lettered E.O. 220. It was during the term of then President Joseph Estrada that the Department of Health has changed the names of the regional offices to Centers for Health Development.

The Center for Health Development – CAR was then led by Dr. Teresita Bonoan, who took over July 23, 2001 until March 31, 2005.  Dr. Myrna C. Cabotaje took over from April 1, 2005 to March 2012.  Dr. Judith N. Allaga acted as OIC from March 2012 to September 2012.  Dr. Valeriano Jesus V. Lopez came to DOHCAR on March 2012 acted as Assistant Director and became Officer-In-Charge  from September 2012 to September 2014.  He became full pledge Director IV on October 2014.  He  led DOH-CAR until March 2015. Dr. Lakshmi I. Legaspi, who hails from Cebu City was the Regional Director of DOH-CAR Office which took effect on January 10, 2016 until July 2018. Dr. Amelita M. Pangilinan was the OIC from April 2015 to December 2015.  She became full pledge Director III on April 2015 and presently the Officer-In-Charge, Regional Director of DOHCAR Office.