DAVAO CITY -- Political and civic leaders from all over Mindanao, including representatives from different sectors, arrived here Sunday to attend the Mindanao Leaders Summit on Federalism set today, December 1, at the Grand Menseng Hotel.

The one-day event, dubbed as "Mindanawons Forging Unity Toward a Federal System of Government," will push for federalism as a viable alternative to the present form of government and effect political and social changes not just in Mindanao but for the whole country as well.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte initiated the holding of the summit.

"I am calling on all responsible leaders in the island, from government and civil society organizations, from the business and academe sectors, the leaders of the Church, the military and the youth, let us all forge a well-informed, united front, so we could craft a collective plan of action for Mindanao’s true identity reflective of what its peoples and tribes truly wish and aspire for," Duterte said in a statement.

Among those who are expected to attend are former President Fidel V. Ramos, Msgr. Fernando Capalla, Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora, former Mindanao Economic Development Council chair Paul G. Dominguez, and retired General Hermogenes Esperon.

Local government heads from Mindanao cities, towns and provinces are also expected to attend, as well as Catholic bishops and Muslim religious leaders.

Last September, Duterte met with former mayors and governors in an initial effort to revive calls for a federal form of government.

The group, which called itself Mindanao Council of Leaders, made their position public after an informal caucus.

Present during the said meeting were Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, former Cagayan de Oro mayors Reuben Canoy and Vicente Emano, former Zamboanga del Norte congressman Romeo Jalosjos, and former Davao del Norte representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

A month later, Duterte was in Cebu City and met with Cebu officials.

The event was sponsored by the Federal Movement for a Better Philippines and coincided with the induction of its new set of officers held at the Sacred Heart Center in Cebu City.

In attendance were incumbent and former officials of Mindanao and the Visayas, including former governor Lito Osmeña, retired general Alex Bacalla, and Southern Leyte Governor Roger Mercado.

Duterte reiterated that federalism is the only solution that would address not just the problem on insurgency in Mindanao but also the long-deplored wealth sharing disparity between Luzon and the Visayas and Mindanao.

He also said the creation of Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao could help in the Mindanao peace, but added that for real development to come in, federal states must be created in other areas where other ethnic groups reside. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)