The leaders of Cordillera Mountain Ranges and the regions of Baguio City are backing the mayor of Davao City – Rodrigo Duterte. After listening to his advocacy to push forward his version of government, Federalism, the people of Cordillera are prepared to stand behind Duterte.
“Talagang decisive sya. Gusto nya ng change,” said Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan in an interview with TV5 following a forum on Federalism attended by business, civic and several political leaders of the city at the Crown Legacy Hotel in Baguio last week.
However, Duterte said he is not seeking the country’s highest post.
“For the nth time, I am not interested in running for president. It (presidency) is not a merchandise. Wala akong panlaban kay (Vice President Jejomar) Binay. Small time lang ako compared to Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Miriam Santiago,” he said at the 33rd founding anniversary of PDP-Laban.
The Davao mayor said he had been going around the country not to seek support for his supposed candidacy but to drum up support for Federalism which he sees as the solution to the country’s long line of problems.
Domogan, the undefeated Igorot Mayor of Baguio who also served as congressman for nine years, also expressed support for the Presidential Unitary System to Federal Parliamentary which would result in the establishment of at least 14 Federal States throughout the Philippines.
Domogan and his group were actually closely watching the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, a move to create an expanded and unique autonomous government in Mindanao, as a model for the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan, who earlier met with Mayor Duterte at the Baguio Country Club, also expressed strong support for Federalism saying that his province has not earned its rightful share from the exploitation of its natural wealth.
Fongwan, another undefeated Igorot leader who was mayor of La Trinidad, Benguet, cited the mining operations in his province which has been going on for over 100 years and the hydro power facilities like the Binga and Ambuklao and the use of its water for the San Roque Hydro Power Dam in Pangasinan.
“We only get a pittance of what we are supposed to get. In fact, the mining companies extracting our minerals pay the bigger part of their taxes in Makati where their head offices are located,” Fongwan said.
Duterte started his “Listening Tour” in Baguio City on Feb. 19 with the Forum on Federalism with businessmen and local officials followed by a meeting with Rotarians in the Cordillera and Central Luzon.
Yesterday, Duterte met with representatives of the different sectors at the Baguio Convention Center and later joined groups of graduates of the Philippine Military Academy in their reunion also at the Crown Legacy Hotel.
The two-day “Listening Tour” in Baguio gave the people of the city an insight into the Federalism advocacy of Duterte.
“I like his candidness,” said one Rotarian who admitted that he and the others were initially shocked by the colorful and sometimes vulgar words which pepper Duterte’s speeches.
On Monday, Duterte’s “Listening Tour” will bring him to Angeles City, Pampanga for a meeting with the faculty and students of the Angeles University and a forum with businessmen and investors in the Clark and Subic areas.