COTABATO CITY: Tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte showed his soft side after learning that a fundraising campaign dubbed “Piso para sa Presidente” was launched to convince him to run for president next year.
An Ulama presented Duterte a handwoven bag made of palm leaves where collected peso coins are to be kept. The religious leader said it is their humble contribution to the aspiration of the Moro people to have a leader like him.
The religious leader’s statement stunned Duterte.
“I know how frustrated you are. I can feel your frustration. If I will run and win, I promise that the Moro people will always be close to the government,” the mayor said. “The presidency is not in my plans, but if I become president, the Moro people in Mindanao will have a special place in Malacanang.”
Duterte traveled to Cotabatao City on Wednesday to discuss federalism at the Cotabato Polytechnic State University. The audience included local government officials, professionals, students and youth, religious leaders, and community workers.
During the forum, Duterte expressed his support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“I am fully supportive of BBL, but we have to look at some of the provisions,” he said. “If BBL fails, I will come back to elaborate more what federalism is all about.”
A manifesto of support was also read during the forum.
“We are fully supportive of federalism as we want change in our country. We are fed up of the historic neglect by the national government,” the manifesto stated. “We are behind you in all endeavors you undertake.”
Duterte admitted having been surprised by the show of support.
“I really don’t know what to say. I am surprised, but I thank you all for having me here,” he said.
Duterte said fugitive Moro leader Nur Misuari should not be sidelined in the process of passing the BBL.
“Misuari should see the draft,” he said, adding that the founding leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) should be involved in the peace process.