“It is my dream to see peace in Mindananao,” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said in a forum on Federalism in Marawi City,
The ‘dream’ is every Mindanaoan’s dream and the popular mayor’s statement sparked applause from his audience, a mix of Christians and Muslims in this predominantly Muslim city in western Mindanao.
Mutual efforts by government and Moro rebels have faced stormy weather with Congress in doubt about passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), seen as a final solution to the decades-old Mindanao problem.
The killing of 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) commandos in January by Moro rebels has doomed the fate of the BBL, triggering war calls that could lead to resurgence of violence.
Duterte is a strong supporter of the BBL and has cautioned that war could erupt anew if the law is not passed.
Duterte said he wants to talk things over with Al-haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which signed the peace agreement with the government with the BBL at the core of the peace pact reached after nearly 40 years of a violent secessionist war waged by Moro rebels.
As the killing of the SAF troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao threatened approval of the BBL, Duterte had urged government should have an alternative plan to avoid another round of violence.
The mayor told his Marawi City crowd that he cannot understand why a government will declare war against its own people
He had proposed a shift to the Federal form of government as a solution to the Moro insurgency and has been going around the country to promote his agenda for peace in Mindanao.
The Marawi City engagement is part of Duterte’s Listening Tour on Federalism. The tour however has also morphed into a venue for people to push Duterte to run for President in 2016 as well as occasion for the mayor to say that he was not interested in the position.
During the open forum, Duterte again deflected questions on what it will take for him to run for president.
He said he was not running and would rather have former Lanao del Norte former Congressman Benasing Macarambon as President.
He said in jest he would take the portfolio of the Department of Interior and Local Government if Macarambon becomes president.
Macarambon, Duterte’s contemporary in the only term he served as congressman (1995-1998), introduced the mayor during the forum.
Pressed repeatedly about a presidential run, Duterte eventually relented saying it was not time to talk about running for president.
Duterte reiterated what he said in previous forums that he will declare a revolutionary government “within six months or one year” if he does not get the reforms that he wants.
“If you don’t want to declare it, I will be the one to declare it,” he vowed, drawing another round of applause.
“BEFORE I DIE”
BY CHITO A. FUENTES
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte wants federalism so badly he wants to see it in place before he dies.
“I would be happy to die kung makita ko ang federalism sa Pilipinas,” Duterte said during the Federalism Forum at the GMA Gym at the Terminal Complex in Marawi City on May 5.
Duterte, looming as a presidential candidate in 2016, has been going around the country to promote a shift in form of government from presidential to federal as a cure to the country’s multifarious woes ranging from corruption to uncontrolled criminality and the unresolved Moro problem in Mindanao and the communist insurgency.
His Listening Tour on Federalism has already reached key cities in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon.
Duterte spoke for 40 minutes on his favorite advocacy before a captive audience that included a cross section of Marawi’s predominantly Moslem populace.
The mayor was introduced as “an authentic leader from Mindanao.”
He was welcomed with a standing ovation by his audience that was more than 50 percent women.
The mayor other than speaking about Federalism as a solution to the Mindanao problem also bared his efforts to save the island from more violence.
Duterte pointed out that the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) hangs in the balance after the Mamasapano debacle.
He noted that both Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Deles had warned of violence if BBL fails.
The mayor revealed that he has reached out to Muslim leaders in a last-ditch effort to avert violence if BBL fails.
Duterte said he had talked with Nur Misuari, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), against rising up in arms again as the BBL faces a potential doom.
Duterte also said he was planning to discuss the BBL with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which has signed a peace agreement with the government that led to the proposal to create a new Bangsamoro juridical entity under the BBL. The new Bansamoro government would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the autonomous government set into place after anearlier agreement with the Misuari-led MNLF.