ZAMBOANGA CITY – The proposed federal form of government will not lead to the secession of Mindanao from the country, President Duterte assured Thursday.
The President argued that the country will stay as one nation, saying his envisioned federalism would help bring peace and development to Mindanao that has long been plagued by poverty and conflict.
“Kung ano ang teritoryo ninyo, inyo lahat. Kung ano ang inyo, inyo ng lahat niyan except that we have to maintain the Republic because to secede is not…hindi pwede ‘yan,” the President said during an assembly with government troops in Basilan last Thursday.
“Magsarili ka? Eh kung gusto mo itong buong Mindanao, e ‘di magsialisan na lang tayong lahat. Eh papaano?” he added.
In the recent presidential campaign, Duterte strongly pushed for an overhaul of the country’s unitary form of government to a federal one to allow a more equitable sharing of power and wealth between national government and the local government units.
Seeking to end the domination of the so-called Imperial Manila, the former mayor of Davao City has endorsed efforts to amend the Constitution to pave the way for federalism.
Some groups, however, expressed concern that federalism would pave the way for Mindanao’s secession from Luzon and Visayas.
Duterte, in his remarks during stopover in a military camp in Basilan, explained that federalism aims to empower the regions to have greater autonomy in running their economy, local budget, and development of natural resources, among others.
“Walang gobyernong makialam sa inyo. Kayo na ang magpatakbo ng gobyerno ninyo,” he said. “Anong makuha ninyo dito inyo na. Bigyan mo lang nang kaunti ‘yung national federal government. Walang problema iyan sa akin,” he added.
The President also encouraged concerned sectors to join the dialogue on the proposed federalism to raise any concerns and suggestions. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)