No Peace in Mindanao Unless Federalism is Realized, Duterte Says

 

President Rodrigo Duterte attends Urban Poor Solidarity Week.

President Rodrigo Duterte attends Urban Poor Solidarity Week.

 

 

Manila, 08 Rabi’ul Awwal 1438/08 December 2016 (MINA) – Duterte warned that the country would not achieve peace if the shift to federalism is not realized as Moros in Mindanao are not likely to accept another setup.

“I would like to just tell you. Believe me. It’s up to you. I leave it to the people to decide. Pagka hindi lumusot ang federal system sa ating bayan (if the federal system does is not implemented in our country), you might as well give up Mindanao,” Philstar quoted the president as saying during an event of the Urban Poor Solidarity Week in Mandaluyong.

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“We won’t have peace anymore. So if others are resistant to the idea of a federal set-up, without that federalism, the Moro people will never agree to anything else. If you don’t believe me then don’t. But I already told you this. I’m just here for six years,” he added.

Duterte said federalism won’t be implemented anymore if it is not realized under his term.

“I have Moro blood and if during my time it is not firmed up, nobody can. And Moro people will no longer believe us,” he added.

Federalism has different versions but in general, it grants more powers to local governments including the power to impose their own taxes, implement business regulations and set up courts.

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The Philippines has a unitary form government wherein much of policies and decisions come from the central government in Manila. Federalism advocates believe a unitary government has resulted in an inequitable distribution of resources and lack of development in areas that are far from the capital.

Duterte had said that federalism is the key to solving the longstanding conflict in Mindanao. He said he is ready to step down once the federal set-up is in place
Extremist group

In the same speech, Duterte cited the need to prepare for terrorism, warning that the international extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) is seeking to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia.

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“ISIS are extremists. They are fighting it out in Aleppo and Mosul in Syria and Iraq. Once they lose land base, they will move towards the seas and dissipate. And they have this dream of a caliphate kingdom that would comprise Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei,” the president said.

“The next adventure that I will embark on is terrorism. Be prepared for that,” he added.

Duterte has said that the Maute armed group, which consists of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, has links with ISIS.

The military intensified its offensives against the Maute group after the militants occupied parts of Butig town in Lanao del Sur. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)