Zamboanga mayor ‘misinformed’ on federalism, says Duterte camp

Feb. 24, 2016
Duterte and Climaco

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar (Photo from the official Twitter account of Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar)

TAGUM CITY — The camp of presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte took a swipe at Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar who cautioned her constituents not to vote a presidential candidate advocating federalism.

“We are sorry that Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar is getting it all wrong. She is obviously mis-informed,” Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesperson, said on Wednesday, February 24.

Duterte’s plan to shift the country’s government system to federalism is still a proposal, said Laviña, and that the plan is intended to decentralize power and resources from the national government.

In a press conference in Zamboanga last week, Climaco appealed to the public not to support candidates who are in favor of federalism and the leadership of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari.

Misuari has long backed the Davao mayor’s presidency, saying there would be hope and peace in the country if the “corrupt government” will be headed by Duterte.

Climaco, however, clarified that she is not against the type of government being proposed by Duterte.

“What I responded to was a question of candidates supporting Nur Misuari. What I said was about justice and honoring the memory of Athan Ando the 3 year old boy hostage in the head during the Zamboanga City Siege,” she said in a February 24 statement.

At least 62,000 civilians were displaced in September 2013 during a standoff between government troops and MNLF. The fighting left 30 casualties, including four civilians. But the MNLF insisted that they intended a stage rally and not a siege as widely-reported by the media.

Crisis erupted when a faction of the MNLF attempted to hoist an flag of the Bangsamoro Republic at Zamboanga’s city hall. Climaco opposed what she called a “propaganda mechanism.”

Laviña explained that federalism aims to solve the Moro insurgency in Mindanao wherein several Muslim tribes seek greater self-rule.

“We need to correct the historical wrongs done on our Muslims and other indigenous peoples by our colonial masters and dominantly Christian central governments,” he said.

However, he pointed out that Duterte’s presidency does not mean he would give Western Mindanao to Misuari.

“The Zamboanga peninsula, most especially Zamboanga city, will never be part of ARMM or the areas specified under the BBL,” Laviña stressed.

“Under the federal set up, there are ideas to create two federal states to replace the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Other regions throughout the country will have their own federal states as well, including the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Cordilleras as well as the National Capital Region,” he said. (

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