DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 February) — Mindanao’s lone Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, lead convener of the Friends of Peace, sent Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, two questions he wants the PDP-Laban Presidential candidate to answer as he goes around the country to campaign.
Duterte was supposed to present his peace agenda during the “Conversations with Presidential Candidates on the Bangsamoro Peace Process” scheduled at 3 p.m. Friday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel but could not make it because he was still “recuperating from a severe attack of migraine headache and acute bronchitis” and was “advised by his doctor to take a rest lest his health deteriorate further,” City Administrator Jaime Quitain said.
Quitain arrived at 2:04 p.m. at the Kalaw Room of Waterfront Insular Hotel to personally express the mayor’s apologies and to hand over to Cardinal Quevedo a letter explaining Duterte’s absence in the “Conversations” attended by representatives of peace groups from around Mindanao.
QUESTIONS. Davao City administrator Melchor Quitain receives metacards where questions intended for Presidential candidate and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte were written by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, lead convener of the Friends of Peace, on February 12, 2016 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel. The Friends of Peace invited Duterte for the 1st of a series of “Conversations with Presidential Candidates on the Bangsamoro Peace Process.” Duterte had earlier confirmed attendance but sent his regrets upon advice of his doctors. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
“He sends his sincere apologies with the plea for your kind understanding,” Quitain said. “At the same time, he wishes to thank you for having considered as a participant in the Conversations where he could express his thoughts on a matter that he is very concerned with – Peace in Mindanao.”
Duterte, the lone Mindanawon Presidential candidate and lone candidate espousing a change of system from Presidential to federal form of government, was supposed to be the first to present his peace agenda during the “Conversations with Presidential Candidates on the Bangsamoro Peace Process” this Friday, February 12, at 3 pm.. at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here.
“Conversations” is a series of dialogues with Presidential candidates on the Bangsamoro peace process, convened by the Friends of Peace led by Quevedo.
Quevedo requested Quitain to hand over to Duterte two questions from the peace groups that he wrote on pink meta cards.
Question number 1: “Federalism has been reported as your solution to the peace problem. Since this will presumably take a long time, the peace problem will fester . Your comments on this please.”
Question number 2: “If you become President, will you take up the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) again and what kind of BBL will you advocate?
“Can you pass these on to him?” Quevedo asked. He also asked Quitain to relay to Duterte that “we are praying for his health.”
Just before Quitain left the room, Quevedo asked him if, indeed, Duterte will abolish Congress as the implication, the Cardinal said in jest, is “federalism will be easy to pass.”
Shifting to a federal form of government will require amending the 1987 Constitution.
During his proclamation as PDP-Laban standard bearer on November 30, Duterte said that if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was passed, it will be a “watered down version” of what was intended under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government (GPH).
He said he has no problem with the BBL, the law that would pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “You can shorten it or make it longer but let us avoid war.”
He said there is a need to shift to a federal form of government because “the destiny of Mindanao is not controlled by us” but by the national government in Manila.
Peter Lavina, Duterte’s spokesperson, posted on his Facebook wall Friday noon a note expressing “deep regrets” that Duterte “cannot be with Cardinal Quevedo and other peace advocates today at the Waterfront Hotel Davao, as well as with independent and small radio station owners holding a summit meeting also in Davao. On advise of his physicians. He said Duterte is “taking the day off for much needed rest.”
“The mayor’s position on issues pertaining to peace, particularly in Mindanao, are well known. It is part of this platform of government, to settle the Mindanao conflict as well as the communist insurgency and build peace so that we can all work together for the development of our country. He is also fully aware and supports the vital role of mass media, like the ones served by community radio broadcasts,” La Vina said.
Earlier, MindaNews asked Quevedo and other peace advocates what questions they would have asked if Duterte had attended the forum.
Basing his questions on the concerns of the Friends of Peace, Quevedo cited six points:
“How long do you think you need in order to change the Constitution and have the (shift to) federalism? In the meantime, the problem in Mindanao is festering;”
“Your relatives say you would be a dictator. What’s your comment on that?”
“For many, you represent the masa and your running mate represents the burgis.”
“You are neutral with Muslims but your running mate is anti-Muslim.”
“Will you sit on the BBL while you are trying to push for federalism?”
“You are reported to have said you will abolish Congress. Are you serious about this?”
Prof. Rufa Guiam of the peace center of the Mindanao State University in General Santos City said she wants to ask Duterte: “what are your concrete plans to address the need for healing and reconciliation among Mindanao’s divided peoples? And ensure non-recurrence of the same human rights violations and direct violence?
Guiamel Alim of Cotabato City, executive director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society wants to ask: “Will the present ARMM constitute one federal state?”
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Study Group wants to ask Duterte: “Would he honor the CAB? What would he prioritize? Passing a BBL or constitutional amendment to pave the way for the shift to federalism?”
Drieza Liningding of Lanao del Sur, secretary-general of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development said he would have asked Duterte to “reveal everything he knew about the Mamasapano incident since he came out in the public that he knows something about it.”
Historian Rudy Rodil of Iligan City, a former member of the government peace panel in the negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front and MILF, wants to ask Duterte how he would “encourage establishing people’s initiative of peace zones in conflict-affected areas apart from BBL-related efforts?” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)