BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who said the government’s mishandling of the Mamasapano issue spawned talks of a coup d’etat, has warned that a power grab would be disastrous to the Philippines.
“I have never seen a situation where people talk openly about staging a coup [d’etat],” Duterte told members of the Rotary International from the Visayas and Western Mindanao who gathered at the L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City on Friday.
He said he heard suggestions of a coup d’etat from retired and active military and police officials after a Special Action Force (SAF) operation to arrest Malaysian international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan resulted in the death of 44 police commandos.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed that 18 of its combatants and five civilians also died in the clash at Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“I warned them against a coup. I said the international community will never look kindly at a nation ruled by a military junta. We will become an international pariah,” Duterte said.
The mayor who is known to have open communication lines with the leaders of the MILF, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the New People’s Army (NPA), pointed out that forcing President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down will do more harm than good for the country.
“Some people may not be happy with the way the President explained his side on the Mamasapano disaster but staging a coup will create more problems for the country,” he said.
Duterte blasted groups and political leaders calling for an all-out war.
“Do you know what war is? Do you really understand the meaning of war? I have seen the horrors of war with my own eyes. I carried in my arms the body of a nun whose brain was dripping out of her head in the Sasa [wharf]bombing,” he said, referring to a terrorist attack in Davao City several years ago.
Duterte noted that the biggest victims of war are civilians who are caught in the crossfire.
He called on the government to continue its peace negotiations with the MILF.
“We have to talk even if it will take us 100 years. For after all the killings and the bloodshed, conflicts are always settled in the peace table,” the mayor said.
“Let me repeat what I said earlier, Let us rise above our national outrage and anger to find a way to resolve the conflict in our country through peaceful means,” he added.
The mayor earlier called on the country’s leaders to hold a summit with Mindanao officials to prepare a back-up plan to sustain the peace efforts in the South in the face of expected rejection of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.
“We have to prepare a Plan B and I believe federalism is the best option to a failed BBL,” Duterte said.
He was in Bacolod City to drum up support to his advocacy for a shift from a presidential unitary form of government to federal parliamentary.
“I believe that a Bangsamoro Federal State will address the dreams and aspirations of our Muslim brothers in the South for a degree of self-governance,” Duterte said.