KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) – A huge crowd of supporters of Davao City mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, standard bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban) gathered at the Rizal Park here on Saturday afternoon, chanting “Du-ter-te, Du-ter-te” as “the next President of the Philippines” was welcomed onstage.
The 71-year old Duterte, mayor of Davao City for 22 years, is the lone Mindanawon Presidential candidate and the only one among five Presidential candidates who is espousing change in the system of government itself.
“We have to change the government,” Duterte said repeatedly in his 47-minute speech, at times punctuated with expletives.
“I am angry. Galit ako sa gobyerno. Palitan natin ang gobyernong p__nang ito. Mabuhay ang Pilipino…. Papalitan natin, palitan natin ang gobyerno” (I am angry at government, Let’s change this (expletive) government. Long live the Philippines… Let us change, let us change this government,” Duterte said. The crowd cheered.
DIGONG IN KORONADAL. Davao City mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte, also known as “Digong,” shares his insights on federalism during his campaign sortie in Rizal Park, Koronadal City on April 9, 2016. The lone Mindanawon Presidential bet vowed an end to the conflict in Mindanao should he become President. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Duterte has been pushing for an overhaul of the system of government from the Presidential, unitary form where decisions on Mindanao and other parts of the country, including shares in the revenues generated, are made in the national capital, to a federal system of government that will allow for a more equitable power-sharing and wealth-sharing between the central government and the local states.
Mindanao, he said, contributes 54% of the country’s total export earnings but gets little in terms of budget.
He spoke about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which Duterte wants passed but which Congress did not pass before it adjourned on February 3.
“Nothing short of federalism will appease the Moro people than a federal type of government. Palitan talaga natin ang gobyerno” (we must really change government) even as he also repeatedly said “there must be one nation.”
“I love my country and we must remain one,” Duterte said.
Shifting to a federal form of government, however, requires amending the 1987 Constitution.
He explained to the crowd that changing the system of government will not be through revolution as the New People’s Army is advocating but through political process. “Daanin ito sa politika We will amend the Constitution using the process ..We will amend the Constitution peacefully,” he stressed.
He recalled telling the Moro people, “abandon your fight,” adding “kapag andyan ako I will guarantee na yung gusto ninyong BBL, ibigay natin yan” (when I’m there, I will guarantee that the BBL you want we will give), and we will also reconfigure a place for Nur Misuari… mag-federal tayo”
Duterte, who has repeatedly vowed to end criminality “in three to six months” if he is elected President, did not say what his timeline would be in pursuing federalism within the six-year term of the Presidency.
MindaNews asked Duterte in a press conference on October 9, 2015 at the Marco Polo hotel in Davao City what his federalism timeline would be.
FIRST IN LINE. A young boy removes his shirt as he waits for a team of graphic artists set up their booth for a free t-shirt printing session for supporters of Davao City mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte at Rizal Park, Koronadal City on April 9, 2016. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
His reply: “The next President should not call for a Constitutional Convention right away. Yun man ang gusto ng ibang partido (That’s what other parties want). You’ll be wasting money because the most important thing there, the primary reason why you go for federalism is itong Mindanao. You create a Commission, discuss it and when they’re ready, they go around the Philippines promoting federalism and to tell the Filipino people what it is all about.”
He stressed the need for education. “You have to educate the people (about federalism),” Duterte said.
“But Gloria Arroyo already did that,” MindaNews asked. In August 2005, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued EO 453 creating a Consultative Commission tasked to, among others, conduct consultations and studies and propose amendments and revisions to the 1987 Constitution, principally the proposals to shift from the presidential-unitary system to a parliamentary-federal system of government.”
“It’s not enough,” Duterte said, reiterating the need to “educate the people so that they would know what they are about to vote upon.”
Duterte, who had at the time said the option to run for Presidency was on the table (he would file his certificate of candidacy for Mayor six days later), added: “If I were Mar Roxas, on the fourth or fifth year I should be ready. Then you call for a constitutional convention, start the shifting of powers from up to down.”
He mentioned Roxas, then already proclaimed as Liberal Party standard bearer because at the time of the press conference, speculations were widespread that Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe might be disqualified to run for the Presidency.
Roxas in his campaign rally at the Manila Islamic Center in Quiapo on March 28 said federalism would mean “another layer of taxes.”
“Ang federalism is another layer of taxes. Kung gusto ninyo ng mas dagdag na buwis, federalism ang inyong pipiliin. Bakit? Tignan n’yo lahat ng federal states. US may federal income tax at state income tax. Sa Malaysia (din ay ganun). Lahat ng mga federal systems meron buwis na pang-nasiyonal at meron buwis na pang-lokal,” SunStar Manila quoted Roxas as saying.
Duterte’s spokesperson, Peter Laviña, said Roxas is “wrong (about federalism) and his statement is misleading.”
“It is not about imposing taxes. It is about how taxes are shared and spent,” he said.
In Koronadal on Saturday, Presidential candidate Duterte said: “I cannot fix Mindanao without a federal set-up. .. Hindi ako papayag na magkagulo tayo dito. Masuerte ang taga Mindanao kung ako ang Presidente kasi ma-control ko lahat “ (I will not allow trouble for us here in Mindanao. Mindanawons are lucky if I am President because I can control everything).
Duterte will have served a total of 40 years in government service this year. He served as government prosecutor for 10 years before he was named OIC Vice Mayor in 1986, was Davao City mayor from 1988 to 1998; representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001; mayor again from 2001 to 2010 and vice mayor from 2010 to 2013 to daughter Sara, who substituted for him when he withdrew his COC for mayor and filed his COC for President on November 27.
In 2013, Duterte was elected mayor for the seventh time with son Paolo as vice mayor. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)