By Philippine News Agency
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday pushed for the adoption of federalism in the country, arguing that it is the only solution to Mindanao’s secessionist problem as well as to improve the economy and people’s living condition.
The President, however, said implementing a federal form of government must also entail opening the economy to investors to spur competition.
“Unless you open the Philippines…Alam mo prangkahan tayo–I’m not up to anything anymore. Hindi na ako makatakbo. Sana just ponder on it. Sleep on it,” he said in a speech during the 7th anniversary of the Federalismo Alyansa ng Bicol here.
“Habang ‘di mo buksan lahat for competition… because this country is ruled by just a few oligarchs. And they owned the power,” he added.
“The essence of the blossoming of the economy is actually competition, and major trade and services must be freed from the control of only few families. Elections in the Philippines is violent because of the feudal system that still exists until today,” Duterte said.
Although he favors opening up the country to investments, he said he would oppose selling of lands under a federal form of government. This is something not negotiable to him, believing that people must not be building their houses on lands owned by somebody else.
The President said federalism will also benefit regions that are rich in natural resources. For instance, in the Bicol region, local governments have no say in the management and use of power derived from area.
This is because of the current unitary government setup, the President said, noting that with federalism, regional government will have more power over its resources.
President Duterte also warned that without federalism, the country may lose Mindanao as Muslims push for self-determination.
The next generation will face tremendous challenge in keeping the country intact and there could be continued fighting as a result of Muslim secessionist initiative.
President Duterte also told Bicolanos that he will relentlessly fight corruption, encouraging them not to be afraid to expose corruption in the bureaucracy.
“Ang Pilipino kasi… let’s have a change of paradigm. Ang Pilipino kasi kawawa because hindi tayo assertive lalo na ‘yung taga-bukid. Dapat matuto yan sila,” he said.
The President said he will be strict against corruption and will immediately fire personnel proven to be engaged in corrupt practices, even if they are his friends.