DAVAO CITY – Mayors and governors past and present from Mindanao including Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte revived calls for a federal form of government.
The group which called itself Mindanao Council of Leaders made their position public after an informal caucus took place in Marco Polo Hotel earlier this week.
Joining the caucus aside from Duterte are politicians in Mindanao including Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, former Cagayan de Oro Mayors Reuben Canoy and Vicente Emano, former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos from Zamboanga del Norte and former Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.
The group said they will gather more heads next month in a Cebu City meeting with more mayors, governors and congressmen from Visayas and Mindanao attending this event.
The proposal for a federal type of government was first pushed in the 1980s by former Senator and Cagayan de Oro Mayor Aquilino Pimentel and Davao’s Rey Teves which calls for regional independence in governance, and bigger shares in its local economic production.
Presently, Canoy and Duterte think that federalism is ideal for Mindanao to address specific problems such as the Moro liberation fronts and poverty, as Mindanao contributes greatly to the national economy yet receives little in terms of national revenues.
Canoy said under the federal form of government, “leaders will have to give voice to the problems and needs of Mindanao,” said Canoy.
Duterte also thinks federalism can accommodate the new Bangsamoro territory crafted by the Bangsamoro Basic Law that stated its government would be ministerial or parliamentary in form.
“The only way to attain peace in Mindanao and perhaps throughout the land is to go federal. This problem of Muslim insurgency in Mindanao needs a federal type of solution,” Duterte said.
Congress is deliberating on the BBL starting this month, and with the proposal of federalism, this might open again the call for amending the Constitution. The call for charter change for lifting limits on foreign investments has been opposed.
But Duterte said there would be more discussions on how to push forward their agenda to the national government.
The bonding of Mindanao leaders has downplayed rumors that a Mindanao bloc is formed to push Duterte for a presidential bid in 2016.
The mayor has also denied rumors of his involvement in a destabilization plot to establish a new leadership. “I will not serve a government forced upon the people,” Duterte said. (davaotoday.com)