DAVAO CITY — If the Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao gets enacted, federalism would ride high on its success and to be drummed up much easier on the platform that provinces continued to be neglected by the national government, Mindanao leaders said.
Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario told last week’s media forum after the Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting here that a successful passage of the Bangsamoro entity “could signal a positive development that other leaders in Mindanao can demand for a somewhat independent formation in Mindanao”.
“We will follow what Bangsamoro is getting into, if it succeeds it as an indicator. If this succeeds, everyone will follow in Mindanao,” he said.
He said that Malaysia, a Muslim-dominated country that played third-country facilitator to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, “is a successful model for federalism”.
A group of incumbent and former local government chief executives who called themselves the Mindanao Council of Leaders gathered here last month to push anew for federalism in Mindanao.
The group included Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Bukdinon Gov. Jose Zubiri, Cagayan de Oro former mayors Ruben Canoy and Vicente Emano, and former representatives Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte and Romeo Jalosjos of Zamboanga del Norte .
Duterte said that thorny issues in Mindanao such as poverty and peace with Muslim insurgents and communist revolutionary groups could best be resolved through a federal form of government.
Del Rosario is not part of the group, but said he carried the same sentiments with officials who want more attention given to address development in the regions.
“We in Mindanao, we are far away, we are at the losing end. I have sat in the RDC for 15 years. I notice when we submit our requests for the national budget, what gets deliberated and made into law will be only about 30 percent of what we requested,” he said.
He said going through such process “is an exercise in futility year after year.”
“Maybe federalism will be an answer,” he said.
The Bangsamoro basic law is now deliberated in Congress, which would enact an enabling law to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by early 2015, a timetable set by Malacanang. A plebiscite will be held to determine other new areas to be included in the territory.
Presidential Peace Adviser, Teresita Deles, clarified in an earlier interview that government has not entertained the call for federalism by other groups, and said that the national government is rather more inclined to address the demand of the Moro people which is autonomy.
Sammy Maulana, secretary general of the Cotabato-based Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) said any move for federalism must include a federal state for the Bangsamoro people that would include all Muslims and groups fighting for autonomy.
“If the government would move to a federal system, they should ensure there is a federal government for the Bangsamoro,” he said.
Episcopal Church Bishop Joseph Casimina said any form of government must address poverty which he said has been the source of conflict in the country.
“Any form of government, even with the BBL, If this law does not answer the basic problem which is poverty, it would still be nothing. People will continue to rebel against the government,” said Bishop Casimina. (DAVAO TODAY)