Manila Bulletin

Duterte prods Congress to fast-track federalism

- By ALI G. MACABALANG

DAVAO CITY — President Duterte pressed Congress to fast-track the process of putting in place a federal system of government in the country, stressing that it would be instrument­al in bringing peace and developmen­t in troubled areas of the country, especially in Mindanao.

Speaking at the Summit of local government units in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) here Thursday, Duterte underscore­d that he wanted the federal system establishe­d during his administra­tion, as he reiterated his promise to step down even before his term ends to pave the way for this new system, provided that it would function with a strong President.

He said he had pressed Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez to start the ball rolling in his administra­tion’s drive for federal system in two to three years.

“I told them (lawmakers), hurry it up. I told them if you finish it in two or three years, I will step down as President. You can have my word,” the President said.

“The enabling legislatio­n should proceed now,” he said, because “the Moro people will not wait for another term of a president.”

He added: “I am not an indispensa­ble factor in this island. But what I’m saying … maybe not really golden but the most appropriat­e opportunit­y at this time of our generation, in our lives now, will be now.”

Duterte also assured the Moro people that his only desire was to give them their own territory, coupled with more government support so that they could transform ARMM in one of the most developed regions in the country.

The President also cited his administra­tion’s freedom from outside influence as an added assurance that Moros could bounce from the misgiving of past government­s dating back to colonial regimes.

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