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Federalism dreamers eye BBL, Charter change

/ 12:18 AM December 03, 2014

DAVAO CITY—Proposals to create a new autonomous system in Mindanao and open the Constitution to change its economic provisions are two of the triggers that advocates of federalism are waiting for the government to pull to start what they said would be a determined campaign to set up a federal form of government.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has become the new poster boy of federalism after he repeatedly rejected calls for him to run for President in 2016, said opening up the Constitution supposedly to improve the economy would be one of the best chances of federalism advocates to fulfill their dream.

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Another, he said, is the ongoing process to set up a new autonomous government in Mindanao through the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

President Aquino has certified as an urgent legislative measure the BBL, the product of the peace agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.

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“Once they open it (Constitution), we’ll start (a determined push for federalism),” Duterte said at the Mindanao leaders’ summit on federalism here on Monday.

“Why limit the changes to economic provisions?” he said in a press conference.

Duterte said proponents of changing the economic provisions of the Constitution should not limit their objectives.

No law prohibits other amendments from being introduced in the Constitution, including form of government, he said.

Dante Jimenez, head of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and prime mover of the Bicol Autonomy Movement, said his group was just waiting for the President to sign the BBL into law before his group starts demanding a similar setup in the Bicol region.

“The Bicol autonomy movement will move not by arms but will carry their demands on the streets of Bicol,” Jimenez said.

He said the process of shifting to a federal form of government could start in 2016 “if we elect a President who supports federalism.”

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During the summit, groups supporting federalism were one in saying that the current unitary system of government was no longer working.

Reuben Canoy, referred to here as the father of federalism and leader of the Mindanao Independence Movement, said in a speech that the unitary form of government was a “legacy of colonialism” which continues to impede the country’s progress.

“When the US took over the colonial government from Spain, why didn’t they pattern the system of government after the federal form that they have in the US?” Canoy said. He said it was because the unitary form of government made it easy for the Americans to rule over the Philippines.

The unitary form is all about control, Duterte said. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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