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Mindanao federalism plausible

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A Mindanao-based scholar and longtime peace advocate on Wednesday expressed optimism that President Rodrigo Duterte can still turn Mindanao into a federal state within his term.

In a television interview, senior policy adviser of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. stressed that the President has the popularity and will power to do so.

“Congress is within the grips of the President. I don’t know if I can say the same with the Supreme Court, but seemingly there is what we call the President’s strong influence over the management and control over the structures of the government,” Mercado said.

The policy adviser also cited Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari’s vision of “one Mindanao,” as inclusive, with the newly-formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region allowed to function as a separate entity.

To recall, the President met with Misuari in Davao City, in which they agreed to form a coordinating committee to discuss peace efforts in Sulu barely two months since their last one in Malacañang on 9 July.

Present in the meeting was Duterte’s peace adviser Carlito Galvez, who earlier said he would have a “personal” meeting with Misuari and revealed that the two camps agreed to form a coordinating committee to discuss peace efforts in Sulu.

“It was a short meeting. What we have discussed is that we will compose a GPH-MNLF coordinating committee so that we can discuss some coordination, particularly on our peace efforts in Sulu province because the President is very much…really put an end on the Abu Sayyaf problem in the area,” said Galvez in an earlier interview.

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