Mindanaoans should put more energy into the call for Federalism even if Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the loudest voice urging a shift from the current unitary presidential to a federal parliamentary form of governance, makes it to Malacanang in the 2016 presidential election.
“Duterte has added passion to the call for Federalism. But we should do more,” said Joji Ilagan Bian, former chairman of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC). She said Fedralism is a “long-time dream of Mindanaoans.”
Bian, in a radio interview on Bombo Radyo in Davao City, warned the concept of Federalism that would allow autonomy to political regions could die without being realized as it continues to be strongly opposed by legislators.
Mindanaoans have long been calling for limited autonomy since the 60s but the southern island remains under grip of the “centrist” Manila government. Lack of government attention and support has led to Moro secessionist movements and fed an insurgency problem that continues to stall Mindanao’s growth.
Duterte has espoused Federalism as his ticket to becoming a leading contender to the presidency in the 2016 elections, gaining followers in the Visayas and Luzon.
Duterte, who has loaded an iron-fist campaign against crime and corruption into his political platform, looks at Federalism as a solution to the Moro and communist insurgencies.
Bian said Mindanaoans should add to Duterte’s passion for Federalism if they want to realize their old dream of an autonomous government.
Bian recalled that she and her group from Mindanao who were members of the Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) during the post-EDSA Corazon Aquino administration proposed Federalism as a concept of governance.
The ConCon provided inputs in the drafting of the ‘Cory Constitution.’
The idea was shot down by those aligned with the centrist Manila government who don’t want their political power diminished under a federal form of government, she said.