bacfedDAVAO CITY MAYOR RODRIGO DUTERTE said he is going around the country in his advocacy for federalism because “it is the only card available in our hands if ever the (Bangsamoro Basic Law) fails.”

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said a shift to a Federal form of government could be the last card in the search for peace in Mindanao.

He insists he is merely holding the last card as he goes around the country to gain support for a federal form of government that he said could end the Moro insurgency in Mindanao.

But people of Bacolod City see more in Duterte who is being pushed to run for President in 2016.

The growing number of his supporters in Bacolod City  insist he is the best card for the country in the 2016 elections.

This is the sentiment of the Bacolodnons as Duterte was in the Visayas city on March 13 to speak in a forum as part of his advocacy for federalism.

 But like other places he visited, his audience wanted him to commit to something else, which is to run for President.

Addressing a multisectoral forum at the Bay Center, the Davao City mayor said he is going around the country in his advocacy for federalism because “it is the only card available in our hands if ever the Bangsamoro Basic Law fails.”

Duterte warned against the call for a “total war” in the light of the Mamasapano incident.

The mayor has remained the only passionate voice for peace among political leaders following the outrage over the death of 44 Special Action Force commandoes in the Mamasapano massacre.

“Do you know what war is?” he asked, addressing those who are sounding the war drums.

Duterte warned that another war in Mindanao is “something we cannot afford, even if we want it.”

Duterte earlier said that unless the national government could come up with a back-up plan to prevent the collapse of the peace negotiation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Central Mindanao faces the grim prospect of renewed bloody hostilities.

“Let this be a fair warning to our national leaders. The indicators of an eruption of violence in the Central Mindanao area are becoming very evident,” he said.

Duterte said that while almost everybody is busy trying to pin down President Benigno S. Aquino III for his role in the disastrous Mamasapano, Maguindanao incident where 44 police commandos were killed by  MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, “nobody is minding the store.”

He said that if the national government fails to come up with a back-up plan for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which is expected to be rejected by Congress and the Senate following the disastrous Mamasapano carnage the whole peace process will collapse and there will be resumption of hostilities in Central Mindanao.

In the Bacolod City forum, Duterte said Federalism is the back-up plan should the BBL collapses.

But it was obvious, however, that many of those who attended the forum, entitled “A Talk on Federalism, Peace and Order and Industrialization” see Duterte as the “best card” in the 2016 elections.

Like he had declared many times before, Duterte said he was not interested.

During the open forum, the mayor continued to dodge the calls for him to run.

“I don’t want to be president. What will I get from that?” Duterte also told reporters who waited for him at Metro Inn where his party was billeted.

Once again confronted with questions about his possible presidential bid, the mayor again flatly denied that he was interested.

  But his audience at the forum urged him to take  a crack at Malacanang in 2016, with a local survey showing him a much-preferred candidate for President against other contenders.

During the open forum, lawyer Jesus Hinlo Jr. read the results of a survey conducted by the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos (UNO-R) last Jan. 9-14.

The UNO-R survey, conducted among 1,000 respondents, gave Duterte 440 votes against the 360 of Interior Secretary mar Roxas and the 160 votes of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

In his welcome address, Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella praised Duterte for what he has done in Davao City.

Puentevella described Duterte as a “model” in a country that is “hungry for change.”(with CHITO A. FUENTES report)


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