Duterte plans to push federalism vision, reiterates vow to crack down on crime INQUIRER

Duterte plans to push federalism vision, reiterates vow to crack down on crime

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- (UPDATE - 12:53 p.m.) Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte announced plans on Tuesday for a radical overhaul of the country's unitary system of government that would empower the provinces.

At the same time, the incendiary politician reiterated his vow of a relentless crackdown on crime after claiming a landslide presidential victory built on foul-mouthed populist tirades that exposed deep voter anger at the establishment.


As of 11:56 a.m. Tuesday, the election watchdog had Duterte with 15,275,401 votes, way ahead of closest rival Manuel Roxas II, the administration standard bearer, who had 9,202,785. The night before, just hours after the polls closed, independent candidate Senator Grace Poe conceded. Late Tuesday, she was running third with 8,555,671 votes.

"It's with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people," Duterte told AFP in Davao early on Tuesday morning as the results came in. "I feel a sense of gratitude to the Filipino people."

Duterte's spokesman, Peter Lavina, told a news conference in Davao City that he would seek a national consensus for a revision of the constitution to switch from a US-style system of government to a parliamentary and federal model.

The proposal to devolve power from Manila fits with Duterte's challenge as a political outsider to the country's establishment, which he has slammed as self-serving and corrupt.

Lavina said Duterte would also seek peace agreements with rebel groups.

The 71-year-old's truculent defiance of political tradition has drawn comparisons with US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as have his references to his libido.

That tapped into popular disgust with the ruling class over its failure to reduce poverty and inequality despite several years of robust economic growth. His campaign vows to crush crime and drug abuse also resonated with voters.

‘Kill threats'

While avoiding such extreme inflammatory remarks, Duterte said a law-and-order crackdown that particularly targeted drugs would be one of his top priorities when he became president, and he was prepared to kill.

"I will do it (fight drugs), even if they say I am an executioner," said Duterte, who rights groups accuse of running vigilante death squads in Davao that have killed more than 1,000 people.

"Look what I did to Davao. I will not let down the people."

Duterte, who on the campaign trail boasted of being behind the death squads, also had a warning for corrupt police.

"If you are a policeman and stick to your racket, choose: either you kill me or I kill you," he said.

The election commission was not expected to officially proclaim Duterte as the winner of Monday's vote for more than a week.

Despite all the rhetoric, analysts said Duterte is expected to moderate his inflammatory comments from now on and unlikely to unleash a killing spree.

"Extrajudicial killings and forgetting human rights, he cannot do that because it will create more instability and chaos, which is what he wants to prevent," Earl Parreno, an analyst from the Manila-based Institute for Political and Economic Reform, told AFP.

"During the campaign he was stage acting, he was exaggerating to get across a message."

South China Sea talks

However, Duterte's incendiary rhetoric and advocacy of extrajudicial killings to stamp out crime and drugs have alarmed many who hear echoes of the Southeast Asian country's authoritarian past.

Duterte made a succession of winding, bellicose and at times comical remarks on television late on Monday as the votes were being counted, venting over corruption and bad governance and telling anecdotes from his 22 years as mayor of Davao city.

He said corrupt officials should "retire or die" and reiterated his support for police to use deadly force against criminals.

"If they put up a good fight and refuse to surrender and if you feel your life is in jeopardy, shoot. You have my authority," he told reporters in Davao, wearing a checked shirt and slouched in a chair.

He also said that he wouldn't go on any overseas state visits to places where the weather was cold.

In an early indication of his unorthodoxy, Duterte told reporters on Monday that if he became president he would seek multilateral talks to resolve disputes over the South China Sea.

The outgoing administration of President Benigno Aquino has asked a court of arbitration in The Hague to recognize its right to exploit waters in the South China Sea, a case it hoped could bolster claims by other countries against China in the resource-rich waters.

Duterte said negotiations should include Japan, Australia and the United States, which is traditionally the region's dominant security player and contests China's development of islands and rocky outcrops in the sea.

The influential Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times, said on Monday that "if there is anything that can be changed by Duterte, it will be diplomacy."

"China will not be too naive to believe that a new president will bring a promising solution to the South China Sea disputes between Beijing and Manila. Only time will tell how far the new leader, be it Duterte or not, will go toward restoring the bilateral relationship."

Fighting the establishment

Duterte's entertaining speeches, often loaded with profanities, have shed little light on his policies beyond going after gangsters and drug pushers.

He has been vague on what he would do to spur an economy that has averaged growth at around 6 percent under President Benigno Aquino III.

In a report on Monday, ratings agency S&P Global said a Duterte presidency would create uncertainty, especially if he picks fights with the political elite.

"He could take some time getting used to the many compromises required in the national leadership position," it said.

One indication of that came on Monday as Duterte told reporters he planned to loosen restrictions on foreign ownership of companies across all industries, which could meet with resistance from protectionist forces.

One of Duterte's economic advisers told Reuters spending on education would be lifted to benefit "disadvantaged regions" and agriculture and rural development will be prioritized to spread wealth more evenly across the country.

"Everything seems to be in imperial Manila," said Ernesto Pernia, professor emeritus of economics at the University of the Philippines. "He wants to give more attention to the lagging, the backward regions."

Pernia said the pursuit of tax evaders and corrupt officials should bolster government revenues to fund extra spending.

source: http://interaksyon.com/article/127555/duterte-plans-to-push-federalism-vision
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