Creation of new commission eyed to spread word on federalism

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 May) – Incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte will create a separate commission comprised of Moros, Lumads and Christians to spread the word on federalism in the country when he assumes the country’s highest post by June 30.

In a press conference at the Matina Enclaves here Monday, Duterte said that some lecturers and experts will also sit in the commission to shed light on the possible shift from a unitary type to federal, parliamentary form of government.

Re-writing the constitution is one of Duterte’s main agenda aside from solving criminality and drugs, in which he vowed to address in the first three to six months of his term.

He said that he would then ask Congress to call for a constitutional convention to start with the draft of the new constitution before the plebiscite which is eyed to be in the next two years.

“I will call for a constitutional convention and ask the Filipino people the need to have a federal system. It should be not later than two years. We submit the proposal for a plebiscite, madali lang mag-frame. It’s not in the framing of the words, it’s in the matter of implementation and obeying what we have agreed on and that is for everybody – Christians, Moros and Lumads,” he said.

Duterte said the Mindanao issue hinges on “our success or failure of federalism. Nothing short of that thing will ever appease the Moro people.”

He discussed the failure of Tripoli Agreement that was signed under Philippine government during the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1976 to bring peace in the island.

In an interview during “Run Duterte Run” Caravan on August 28, 2015 at the Rizal Park here, MNLF Central Committee acting vice chairman Rolando Abdul-Aziz Olamit said three are still three agreements on the territory, provisionary government, and revenue sharing that have not yet been realized.

Although he said the signing of the Tripoli Agreement also delivered some results like the creation of Shari’ah Court, education for the Moro people, and integration of rebel forces into the military as provided for in the Final Peace Agreement of 1996.

Duterte stressed that what the Moro people want now is federalism. “We have to give if you want to have a peaceful Mindanao and eventually a peaceful country. Nothing short of that [federalism] will bring peace to our land,” he said.

Duterte said that he will ask the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf to talk with the government.

“The Abu Sayyaf is connected with the Mindanao issue. It drove young men to desperation and being radicalized. Ayaw ko yan sila ma-contaminate ng ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), in the meantime, I just have to cooperate with them but they must know the consequences of their acts,” Duterte said.

He said that he will create negotiating bodies to divert the Abu Sayyaf’s focus on “nation-building” rather than condemnation in order to attain peace in the island. But he emphasized that anyone who committed serious crimes should be made to answer for the act.

“There will be a time to reckon with that I will ask everybody there to surrender and release all their hostages. But it will not come until we start the talks in Mindanao,” he said.

Although he stressed the need to hold talks with the ASG, he said that police operations will continue along with the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP).

“For those that are committed in the performance of their duty, I, the president, will be assuming full legal responsibility. I only ask the other constitutional bodies, give us the little respect that we deserve,” he said.

Earlier, Duterte lambasted the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) over issues on “ethics” and “human rights” violations.