President Rodrigo Duterte asked Muslim local leaders for unity to attain peace and development in Mindanao as he pushed for the adoption of federalism in the country which he said could bring national stability. In his message during his attendance to the Third Local Government Unit summit of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Thursday, Dec. 1, he said there has been suffering because there seems to be no cohesive action from the Moro people and the national government in the past. The President said he believes that the only acceptable solution today is the implementation of a federal form of government that should be crafted and implemented immediately. "Alam mo sa totoo lang ang pinaka-structure na acceptable aside from the extremist is really federal set up," he said. But there are worries especially from some members of Congress about extremism in the Philippines that could undermine the administration's plan to shift to federalism, according to the President. He called on the Muslim people to unite and shun violence as some radical Muslims in Mindanao sow chaos in some communities. The President reiterated his promise to step down from power once an effective federal system of government is passed. He also vowed to vigorously campaign for the adoption of federalism in the country. Declaring martial law, as his critics have been saying, is not in his mind he said, noting the country gained nothing during the years of martial rule. At the same time, the President expressed his interest in bringing development to the region, telling local Muslim leaders that he would prioritize pouring development fund to Mindanao particularly development aid from Japan. He mentioned giving land to the poor Muslim population, open Jolo for trade and provide farm implements such as tractors especially once there is successful land distribution. Attaining a lasting peace in Mindanao must be handled with great sense of urgency, he said, adding it has nothing to do with the personal alliances or loyalty because he does not need it. "But what you should understand from me, at believe me, na gusto ko talagang mangyari 'yung dapat mangyari and that is semblance of your territory, your governance and the happiness of the Moro people," the President said.
Source: Philippine Information Agency