By Manny Piñol

Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte, egged on by an enthusiastic crowd of sectoral and student leaders in Butuan City today to run for President, has declared he will leave his political destiny to God.

“I am praying and meditating that God would enlighten me and guide me in a making a decision,” Duterte said, a statement considered by many as the most positive sign that he may yet yield to the call to run for President.

“I don’t talk to God but I will wait for a sign from Him which would indicate that He wants me to be President,” Duterte said earning a wild applause from the crowd which gathered at the Dona Ynes Convention Center in Butuan City as early as 8 a.m. today.

“I will yield to God’s will,” Duterte declared.

The forum on Federalism today was the first leg in a series of meetings scheduled in key cities all over the country to advance his Federalism advocacy while at the same time “listening to the voices of the people” on the issue of the Presidency.

Admitting that the idea of the Presidency which started as a joke by close friends had “gone out of control,” Duterte said he is now overwhelmed by the endless appeals from the people to consider the Presidency.

His almost 2-hour speech on Federalism and governance marked the first time that he, either by intention or omission, did not repeat his previous declaration that he was not interested to run for President.

In previous public statements, the colorful and controversial Davao City Mayor consistently brushed off suggestions on the Presidency, even threatening in jest that he would shoot those who were pushing him to consider a run for the country’s highest political position in 2016.

“I came here with a vision, not ambition,” he said as he rattled off what he said should be done by the next President of the country under a Federal Parliamentary form of government.

Starting off with the phrase “If I become President,” Duterte said he would end the 46-year-old Communist insurgency which has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos and stunted the growth of the country.

“We have to sit down and talk and end this conflict. This cannot go on for another generation,” he said.

Duterte also said that the Federal system of government which he proposes would be the best fall back option in case the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is now being discussed in the Senate, would fail to pass the Constitutional test.

“We cannot fail in the effort to address the Bangsamoro issue or else we will go back to the days of terror and violence like in the 1970s,” he said.

After his forum on Federalism, Duterte met with a group of political leaders including barangay officials who also urged him to consider the Presidency.

“This is a very fruitful first leg of the Listening Tour,” said former Transportation Secretary Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.

The second leg of the “Listening Tour” will be in Zamboanga City on Sunday while the third leg will be in Pagadian City on Monday.

From Mindanao, the Duterte Federalism Advocacy group will move to the Visayas and then Luzon, including Palawan. (End)

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