Duterte bares platform

A female supporter of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, presidential candidate of PDP-Laban, sits on his lap at the MAD for Change event at McKinley West Open Field in Taguig City on Sunday night.

MANILA — Aside from stamping out corruption and criminality in the country, presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed to push for a federal system of government that he said would bring “true peace” in Mindanao.

The controversial Davao City mayor gave a preview of his platform of government Monday during what was supposed to be his proclamation as the official presidential candidate of PDP-Laban in next year’s elections.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, the party’s president, said the event, held at Century Park Hotel owned by tycoon Lucio Tan, was more the declaration of a partnership between Duterte and his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

PDP-Laban officially endorsed Cayetano —a member of the Nacionalista Party of Manuel Villar Jr. but who is running for Vice President next year as an independent—as Duterte’s running mate.
Duterte urged his party mates to support Cayetano. “If you don’t vote for Cayetano, don’t vote for me,” he said.

The event lasted two hours. It was monopolized by Duterte, who cracked jokes and anecdotes laced with expletives about his life.

Turning serious, he said he decided to run for President after the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled by a 5-4 vote in favor of Sen. Grace Poe and threw out a disqualification case, ignoring an express provision in the Constitution requiring that candidates for President, Vice President, senators and congressmen be natural-born citizens.

He said the Constitution should not be treated as a mere “piece of paper,” warning that this could lead to a breakup of the nation.

“Do not mangle it with so many different interpretations,” he said, noting that the five senators who voted for Poe based their decision on political and emotional considerations concerning foundlings.
Duterte cited the separatist movements in the country and the different tribes who he said could simply declare their independence from the Republic if the Constitution were debased.

He said he had asked God what he wanted for him and if it was the presidency, then he would go for it.
Introducing the subject of federalism, Duterte expressed doubts about the passage in Congress of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law for Muslim Mindanao. Duterte said Mindanao leaders had asked him to push for federalism. This is why he said he went around the country not to campaign but to explain federalism.

“I am telling you now, nothing short of a federal structure would give Mindanao peace,” he said.
Duterte said the country had to go “federal” and he would try to build consensus for the move that would be submitted in a plebiscite.

He also said he would seek the involvement in the peace talks in Mindanao of Nur Misuari, the leader of the Moro National Liberation Front who is now a fugitive after the Zamboanga City siege in 2012.
Duterte said Misuari could not be ignored since he was a party to the Tripoli Agreement that was forged by the government in 1973, which first brought peace in Mindanao.

He also said he would initiate peace talks with Jose Maria Sison and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Pimentel told the Inquirer that Duterte’s message during his lengthy speech was “clear” about his bid for federalism.

Cayetano defended Duterte’s boast that he was a womanizer. “I challenge the other presidential candidates. Why don’t you talk about your weaknesses? It is not just Mayor Duterte who has a different side,” he said.

“We are here to ask Duterte to change the Philippines, and not to change him. Duterte is simply telling everyone that that is the way he is,” he said. “When he talks about himself and his relationships, he is comfortable, it is not meant to degrade women.”

In one of his expletives and off-color words, he cursed Pope Francis for causing massive traffic jams all over Metro Manila during his visit to the Philippines in January.

“He speaks about frustration. He is a person who deeply respects religious and political beliefs of other people. The way he makes a point raises some eyebrows but people who know him understand him,” Cayetano said.

At Sunday night’s MAD (musicians and artists) for Change, Duterte said corruption had no place in his administration. “I am not corrupt. I’ve been the mayor of Davao for 22 years and that has never been my style,” Duterte told the crowd.

Duterte also admitted to killing a few people. “I have killed but only a few. I think 1,2,3,4,” the 70-year-old mayor said. With all the information he disclosed, Duterte said he just wanted people to know the truth.

“I do not lie. I have no obligation to tell you what is not true,” he noted.