President Duterte pushes Federalism to prevent extremism from thriving

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DAVAO CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to work for the realization of a federal form of government even if it requires him to campaign nationwide in order to prevent full-blown revolution or extremism to thrive beyond this generation.

Speaking before the more than 400 participants of the 3rd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Local Government Summit at SMX Convention Center late Thursday afternoon, President Duterte said a federal set-up is the other acceptable structure especially in Mindanao.

The other – is extremism, which he said should be avoided by every Muslim “because it is not our idea.” Otherwise, if extremism originated in Mindanao, he said, “I will be the first to call upon the Moro people to a total revolution.”

“Wag tayong pumayag ng ganito (We should not agree to this – extremism) whatever may, how long it may take, whatever are the costs kasi hindi ito talaga para sa akin (because this is not really for me).

The President vowed to campaign for the federal structure. “Maybe I’ll just campaign for it, for its approval among the Visayans,” he said. He said he will also campaign among the Moro people.

He recalled there have been many proposals in the past to solve the dynamics of Mindanao like separation and autonomy, but nothing has come out of it and instead of unifying the Moro people, these have become divisive measures against the Moro tribes or groupings.

“And all these years, lahat dito nagsa-suffer (everybody here suffered). We are suffering because there seems to be no cohesive action on the part of the Moro people and the central government,” said the President, adding that there have been a lot of meetings and attempts including the creation of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD).

The SPCPD was created by the government and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). It was supposed to be an avenue for a political settlement of the 24-year Bangsa Moro armed struggle. Some people believed that the SPCPD was the best way of arriving at a conclusion to the armed struggle.

“Hindi ko malaman kung saan talaga ako papunta (I really don’t know where to go). But I think the only acceptable arrangement, as of today, this moment of our generation, and of the lives of the Moro people is federalism. Other than that, bakbakan ‘to (there will be fighting),” he said.

Mr. Duterte said the time is now for the Moro people, including the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA) to seize the opportunity that he is the president.

“I am not saying I am the indispensable factor in this island. But what I’m saying, the most, maybe not really golden but the most appropriate opportunity at this time of our generation, tayong buhay ngayon (we who are still alive), will be now,” he stressed.

According to him, it is only the Filipino people who can solve the country’s problem without foreign influence or intervention.

“Then by the grace of Allah, you might find a good solution for this land. But right now, we have to act,” he said.

The President admitted he has been receiving different signals on what would be the reception of the people on the federal set-up. Two congressmen, he said, asked to him to fix it otherwise it will lose in the plebiscite.

He told the participants that his only wish is “a semblance of your territory, your governance and the happiness of the Moro people.” PNA

PNA/CC

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