Duterte pushes for one military, one police in federal set up
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – He may have declared his openness to a coalition government with the communists and Moro fighters in Mindanao, but Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said these armed groups should be disbanded to ensure stability and security under a federal system of government, which he has been advocating in the past few weeks.
“No other armed group should be allowed to operate in the country except the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” a press release issued by Duterte’s office quoted the mayor as saying during a recent forum with students of the Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City. Duterte, according to the press release, was responding to a question raised by a student at the university’s St. Cecilia’s Auditorium.
Duterte was in Angeles City as part of his “Listening Tour” as he campaigned for federalism.
“No armed group should be allowed, including the CAFGUs (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit). They all should go,” Duterte said, when asked what he would do to ensure stability in the country if he were the President of the Philippines, saying federalism usually bred “powerful autonomous states, especially in the Bangsamoro.”
Duterte earlier said he was open to a coalition government with the communists and Moro guerrillas, but later qualified that such a coalition would only be possible if the New People’s Army (NPA) and other armed groups would agree to be “demobilized.”
Duterte, a supporter of the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said even the MILF, the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and the NPA should be “asked to decommission their firearms” the moment they agree to join him in a unity government.
He said the country’s stability could happen if these groups were disbanded and only the PNP and the AFP were allowed to carry firearms.
He said he had in mind at least 14 federal states with their own state police under the direct supervision of the national police force, while the federal government would retain control over the armed forces, foreign relations and finance.
He reiterated that the creation of the federal state would be the best option should Congress fail to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, especially after some of the senators and congressmen had withdrawn their support following the carnage that ensued after the killing of international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25. Forty-four Special Action Force (SAF) commandos of the Philippine National Police were attacked and killed by MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter rebels as they were making their exit out of Mamasapano.
With the BBL in danger of being rejected in Congress, Duterte said federalism would save the peace process in the Southern Philippines.
Some participants raised the fear that powerful and highly autonomous federal States would concentrate power onto themselves, allowing groups like the MILF to strengthen their armed groups, beyond the control of the federal government.
“That is a risk which will be addressed with the decommissioning of the firearms and armaments of the MILF and other armed rebels groups should they agree to join government,” Duterte said.
“This (disarmament) must be implemented without fear or favor,” the Davao City mayor said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.