Federalism Gains Huge Support in Mindanao
‘Hugpong Federal Movement holds summit in provinces’
ILIGAN CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign for a federal form of government is getting a lot of public support in Mindanao following a series of summit conferences conferences and and road road shows shows in in the the southern southern Philippine Philippine region. region.
The proposed federal form of government is largely being supported by the Hugpong Federal Movement (HFM) – the force behind the successful conferences in the different provinces in the region.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly Duterte’s supporters and advocates of federalism, attended the HFM summit conferences in Basilan, Sulu, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur which started just recently.
HFM National Chairman Celso Tizon and National Secretary Virgilio dela Cruz led the historical federalism summit conferences and supported by various civil groups, nongovernmental organizations and politicians allied with Duterte and among them were Duterte’s Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco who attended the road show in Lanao del Norte’s Iligan City; and Mayor Hadar Hajiri, of Sulu’s Lugus town where thousands of Tausugs participated in the provincial summit.
“Mayor Hajiri is very supportive of President Duterte as well as his entire local government unit. This is the very first municipality in Sulu that hosted federalism forum. Sana lahat ng munisipyo sa Sulu at katulad ni Lugus Mayor Hadar Hajiri na magkaroon din ng sariling initiative to support federal advocacy of our beloved President,” Tizon said.
The HFM also held a forum dubbed as “Kilusang Pagbabago Movement” at the Mindanao State University-iligan Institute of Technology in Iligan City, and conducted an information drive on federalism in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
“We held the federalism forum sa mga lugar sa Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, kasunod sa iba't-ibang lugar sa Mindanao. Dapat mag support na ang mga local government unit para palakasin ang pagsulong ng federalismo sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng federalism education campaign,” Tizon said.
“It is necessary that Filipinos continue their advocacy for federalism and not just receive information about it. People must be part of it. Kailangan nating magkaroon ng gobyerno na malapit sa taong-bayan,” he added.
Duterte himself went around the country in the past and promoted federalism and it only got 3% acceptance rating, but after winning the presidential elections this year and with the intensified campaign and advocacy of HFM, the proposed federal form of government now enjoys huge support from the Filipinos, according to Tizon.
Tizon said they are expecting an 80% acceptance of federalism by early next year. Even in Sulu and elsewhere, the people were so interested with how federalism works and they are very eager to also promote it in the entire region, according to Dela Cruz.
He cited the warm reception of the people of Lugus town when HFM went there to hold the summit. “Parang mga uhaw ang mga tao dito sa Lugus, Sulu, sa usaping federalismo; so, napakaganda ng reaction nila at naramdaman nila sa tunay nilang buhay na talagang sa federalismo may pag-asa ang bayan, kasama na ang mga kapatid nating mga Muslim,” Dela Cruz said, adding, the constituents of Hajiri were satisfied and contented that federalism will really help them in their self-determination and aspirations in life.
Tizon has praised and thanked Hajiri for his huge support to the promotion of federalism in Sulu and assured the mayor that they will bring to Duterte’s attention the necessary development projects his town needs.
“We thanked the good mayor of Lugus for his initiative in helping us further in our information drive and advocating federalism that is being pursued by President Duterte through the Hugpong Federal Movement of the Philippines. Mayor Hadar Hajiri also invited us in his hometown to see the current situation there where the national government and the even Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao failed to bring government programs to the constituents in Lugus,” he said.
Tizon said there are no adequate national government programs in Lugus, but he noted the efforts of Hajiri in trying to come up with development projects aimed at alleviating the poor condition of his constituents. “And there should be national government projects in Lugus such as roads, schools, pier and other government facilities that will benefit the people,” he said.
He said based on his observation, Hajiri managed to put a lot of efforts in Lugus on his own in just three months or in 10 days, and among these are a police station, municipal hall building, a wharf and a school and even used his own money to pursue peace and development efforts there and this clearly shows how sincere the mayor is in his mandate.
“Lugus and its people badly need assistance from the national government and for the people to realize this is through the federal system of government. And Mayor Hajiri’s only wish is for the national government to hasten the delivery development projects to his town,” Tizon said.
Dela Cruz said as they tour the country to promote and campaign for a change in the system of government from presidential to federal, more and more people are coming out and supporting Duterte’s advocacy – federalism, especially in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the ARMM.
“Talagang naging instrumental para sa amin si Mayor Hadar Hajiri para marating namin ang isla ng Sulu, kung wala ang kaniyang barko, napakahirap ng biyahe bago marating ang Lugus. We much appreciate his efforts, dahil siya ang naging tulay namin para maipaalam namin sa mga tagasulu ang halaga ng federalismo hindi lang sa bansa kundi sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino lalo na sa ARMM,” he said.
For his part, Hajiri thanked HFM for enlightening his constituents on the issue of federalism, and also expressed his gratitude to Duterte for pushing federalism in the country. Hajiri also appealed to the President to help develop Lugus which lacks national and regional government infrastructure projects, among others.
Hajiri also is active in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign and working closely with the authorities in fighting the drug menace in his town. Although the drug problem is not so serious in Lugus, Hajiri said some 400 drug users had surrendered peacefully and wanted to start a new life.
The mayor said the security situation in Lugus is also relatively peaceful. “Ang Lugus ay kaya nating ipagmalaki sa buong bansa dahil wala kaming Abu Sayyaf dito. Apat na raang tao na ang napasuko dito dahil sa droga, but Lugus is a virgin town - ibig sabihin nito ay wala kaming daanan dito. Tumulong kami sa kampanya ng Presidente laban sa droga; kailangan namin ng patubig, ilaw, at agricultural development, especially sa fishing industry, Mr. President, ang bayan namin ay pulubi. Sana matulungan niyo po kami President Duterte,” Hajiri said during an interview with the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Hajiri also spoke with Evasco, but details of their meeting was unknown, although the Cabinet Secretary heard about the lack of national government projects in Lugus.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco poses with Mayor Hadar Hajiri of Lugus town in Sulu province during the recent forum on federalism in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte province.
Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa congratulates the winners of "Gwapulis 2016" in Camp Crame in Quezon City recently.
Mayor Hadar Hajiri with HFM National Chairman Celso Tizon
Backhoes in Lugus town in Sulu province.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco greets advocates of federalism as Lugus town Mayor Hadar Hajiri and other guests look on during a recent forum in Iligan City.
Princess Nur Tanjiji, of the Business Sector
Virgilio Dela Cruz, HFM National Executive Secretary
Gapur Randy Usman, Deputy Mayor for Maranao
Mayor Hadar Hajiri with Lugus Municipal Councilor