By Manny Piñol
Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte was moved to tears Sunday, January 25, as a huge crowd composed of Muslim and Christian sectoral leaders from the Zamboanga Peninsula chanted his name again and again and begged that he run for President.
About 2,000 sectoral leaders were attending the Zamboanga City leg of Duterte’s Mindabao-wide “Listening Tour” to promote Federalism as a form of government and get a feel of how strongly people want him to run for President, the convention hall of the Astoria Hotel.
Duterte, whose grandmother was a full-blooded Maranao, especially touched the pride of the Muslims present during the Fedrealism Forum as he declared his Muslim lineage and the marriage of his eldest son, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, to a Tausug girl, a union which gave him Muslim grandchildren.
Former ARMM assemblyman Abulajid Estino led the crowd in urging Duterte to run for President to fulfill the aspirations of the Bangsamoro.
Christian leader Danny Sagaral said Duterte strengthens the hope of the people of Mindanao that peace could be achieved through a President who understands both the feelings of the Muslim minority and the Christians.
Sagaral and Estino and other leaders turned over to Duterte folders containing petitions signed by at least 100,000 people asking him to run for President.
Duterte, in his speech advocating Federalism said that the massive corruption in Metro Manila has deprived people in the provinces of the services that they badly needed.
He cited the thousands of families whose homes were burned during the siege staged by rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sept. 9, 2013 who still live in tents in Zamboanga City.
“I am not campaigning for President but if I become President, I will make sure that everybody in this country, Muslims, Christians and the Indigenous People, will all be treated fairly and will enjoy equal rights and protection by the law,” he said.