Duterte visits Dumaguete City to promote federalism
Juancho R. Gallarde, Judy Flores Partlow (The Freeman) - February 13, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - While shrugging off reports that he will seek the presidency in the 2016 elections, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte visited Dumaguete City on Wednesday to promote federalism in schools and meet with local officials.

Duterte, accompanied by North Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol and former congressman Bebot Alvarez, however made it clear he was in Dumaguete not for endorsements for him to run for president but to call for support for his his advocacy for a shift to a federal form of government as a solution to the present problems in the country.

“Im not interested really to be president, I don’t want it. I don’t need it,” Duterte told the convocation on national issues and federalism held at the Negros Oriental State University and at Silliman University.

Duterte’s visit here was earlier reported as part of a tour to “listen to the people” and determine his chances if he made a go for the presidential race next year.

Piñol said on air, a day ahead of the mayor’s visit, that it is up to Duterte to decide on this despite perceived mounting public clamor for him to run for the presidency, believing that the country lacks leaders with a national agenda.

In a talk with The Freeman, Piñol said Duterte’s visit was part of a campaign across the country to promote his advocacy of federalism, which the mayor said is a more viable option to address the restive Bangsamoro in Mindanao who are seeking for self-government.

Duterte however intimated on the possibility of him running for president, saying it will depend on God, because his 22 years of service as mayor of Davao City was already God’s gift that had brought him so much satisfaction.

Duterte later called on Governor Roel Degamo at the Capitol where he exchanged pleasantries and spoke of his views on federalism without any confirmation at all of his plans in 2016. Both belong to the PDP-Laban party.

Degamo, on the other hand, told reporters afterwards that Duterte is an “option”, but he did not make any commitment to support the latter, as this would be too early yet to do so. The governor however clarified that he was also for a federal system of government, an idea that he had supported even before Duterte’s visit here, if only to maximize the use of resources from the provinces.

During the convocation with students at NORSU, Duterte said a federal system would give regions and provinces more autonomy, as he explained a different taxation system in such kind of government. “I am here to appeal to you to support federalism because it is our only chance for peace,” he said.

While there is no perfect system of government, Duterte said the unitary form the country now has not worked well for us, given the ethnic diversity in over 7,000 islands. “The unitary form of government has centralized power in Metro Manila; has centralized corruption and prevented the growth of the regions, left with very little share of the national wealth,” he said.

Duterte also spoke on federalism in another forum at Silliman University, and then met with Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria and other city officials.  (FREEMAN)


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