MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has reaffirmed his call to amend the constitution, saying Filipinos will remember him long after he is gone if the bid for federalism fails and the same problems continue to hound Mindanao.
Duterte stressed that if the unitary form of government, which he said was imposed by colonizers, is not changed to a federal type, there would be no peace in the southern Philippines
“If you do not reconfigure the unitary type of government now, which is the one that we’re using, and if there is no change in Mindanao, there will be no peace until the end of time for the Philippines,” Duterte said during the Philippine Development Forum in Mandaluyong Wednesday night.
Federalism provides more powers to local governments including the power to establish courts, implement business regulations and impose taxes.
“You will remember me for this. I am sure when I am gone, and everything is not all right, you will remember me,” he added.
Federalism advocates claimed that under a unitary form of government, much of the decisions come from the central government, this is one of the reasons some areas in Mindanao are left behind in terms of resources.
During his presidential campaign, Duterte promised a shift to federalism as one of his key platform issues.
Duterte believes that a federal government would address underdevelopment, which has been blamed for the emergence of extremist groups.
He said that if we are not ready to go federal, let us begin with a regional structure that’s change and give to the Muslims. Otherwise, if you do not force the issue, there will always be war. And this time, there is a new element that has entered the picture – ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)