Muslims Launch 1-million-signatures for Federalism
Editor: Edd K. Usman  
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One Million signatures to convince President Arroyo.


This is what is needed, according to some Muslims leaders, to convince the President to push for parliamentary federalism.


The President started the move for a shift to parliamentary system of government during her State of the Nation Address (SoNA) in Congress on July 25. Several sectors, including the Bangsamoro people (Muslim Filipinos), said this could be the best chance to have a federal set up.


Some Muslim leaders said federalism could be the next best thins after an elusive "kambayabaya" (independence) and after the apparent weakness in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).


To push federalism even more, a new organization called Muslim Movement for Federal Philippines (MMFP) wll be launched tomorrow, Aug. 24, at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan, with Speaker Jose de Venecia as main speaker.


Farouk Sampao, founding chairman of the new group that seeks to advance federalism, not just for Mindanao but the whole country, said De Venecia is expected to further discuss the Arroyo administration's move to turn the Philippines into a unicameral state.


Sampao, a Maranao leader, said the move to gather at least one million signatures to back federalism would be started Wednesday.


"We shall submit our collection of a million signatures to President Arroyo to convince her to support not only a shift to parliamentary form of government, but also federalism", said Sampao.


MMFP organizers also invited Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes Alunan III, and from from Muslim leaders, Amina Rasul, lead convenor of the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID), former ambassador Abul Khayr Alonto, a past vice chairman of the Moro Natinal Liberation Front (MNLF), and House DEputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin.


Earlier, Prof. Salipada S. Tamano, a professor at the Mindanao State University main in Marawi City, said Mrs. Arroyo's move to shift the system of government from the current US-style presidential to parliamentay federal setup through Charter change (Cha-cha) has been snowball-ing among Muslims.


"These Muslim leaders and academicians believe that a parliamentary  federal system of government is in accord with the essence of the traditional Muslim local governance, like the Sultanate and the Agama System," said Tamano, chairman of the Council of Elders and the secretary general of the King Faisal International Village Association or JAMAA.


"Parliamentary federal, as practiced in other countries, will enhance and the preservation, development, and promotion of the cultural heritage of the Muslim Filipinos, thereby making them assets and partners in the overall task of nation-building", added Tamano.