Only federalism will bring lasting peace, says Duterte
President Duterte on Tuesday reiterated that only a federal form of government could bring lasting peace to the entire country and the strife-torn Mindanao.
But the President unequivocally opposed suggestions that the proposed new Bangsamoro political entity be allowed to have its own security forces.
“They (Moro leaders) repeated it before me that they would want some kind of regional armed forces and police. That’s something I cannot give. Those are the things that cannot be negotiated,” the Chief Executive said at the opening of a drug rehabilitation center in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
As President, he said he should “not concede more than what you can really give.”
“They want a federal type of presidency, fine. But the control of the police and the military shall always be in the hands of the President,” he stressed.
Mr. Duterte’s victory in the May elections as the country’s first President from Mindanao had brought hope to the Moro rebels’ struggle to govern their own homeland and end the decades-old war.
Leaders of both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) had expressed optimism that the President’s political will would lead to the creation of a new political body in Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao.
In his speech, the President maintained that only a federal system of government would be the answer to end the secessionist wars in southern Philippines.
“Let me remind you again. Per my observation, we cannot have a peaceful country…if you do not agree to a federal setup,” he said.
“For me, I don’t want to force the people. For me, it’s good if you don’t want it. I am just a Filipino. For as long as you do not bother me, fine. But the problem is in Mindanao and the Moro people will go for it at all costs,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said the campaign for the establishment of a Bangsamoro political body was “Moro nationalism…at work.”
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