"If only to save the country"
By Manny Piñol
Dagupan City - In a public pronouncement which surprised even his closest advisers, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte today said he is willing to run for President of the Philippines "if only to save the Republic."
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, a rumored presidential timber, spoke last February 18 before a jam packed gymnasium of Lyceum Northwestern University. Duterte explained his takes on federalism and the unabated corruption in the government.
Speaking before at least 2,000 participants, mostly youth and students, of the First Federalism Forum in Northern Luzon, held at the Lyceum-Northwestern University here, the 69-year-old Duterte said the Philippines faces an imminent disaster as it is confronted with problems on corruption, criminality and the possible collapse of the peace talks in the Southern Philippines.
"If only to save this Republic, I could run for President," Duterte told the forum.
"I could make this sacrifice if only to save this country from being fractured," he added.
It was the first categorical statement by the colorful and controversial mayor indicating that he has finally yielded to the clamor of the people to run for president.
He made the stunning announcement during the open forum, responding to a question fielded by one of the participants who asked Duterte what he could do to address the ills of the country.
Following Duterte's declaration, former Pangasinan Congressman Eric Acuna stood up and told Mayor Duterte that it was a moral obligation to save the country.
"It is no longer a personal decision for you. It is your moral obligation. You have to save this country," Acuna told Duterte during the open forum.
Acuna said he and his group will shortly launch the "Save the Philippines Movement" to mobilize people in Northern Luzon to support Mayor Duterte.
Mayor Duterte's declaration today was a radical departure from his position a year ago where he categorically stated that he was not interested to run for President.
In November of 2014, however, he yielded to clamors by people for him listen, instead of closing the door outright to the calls for him to consider the Presidency.
Last month, Duterte agreed to launch the "Listening Tour" nation-wide in an effort to advocate for a shift from Unitary Presidential which the country has today to a Federal Parliamentary system.
Duterte said the Federal Parliamentary form of government will address the neglect of the countryside and the Bangsamoro Problem in the face of the expected rejection of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by Congress and the Senate.
"Finally, we heard the words that we have long been waiting for. This is a game changer for the country," said Dante Jimenez, head of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), an ardent supporter of Mayor Duterte.
The Dagupan Declaration by Mayor Duterte has finally ended the speculation and guessing game on whether he will yield to the clamor of the people for a new brand of leadership in the Philippines.