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    May 11, 2016

    Duterte's rivals throw in towel in Filipino presidential vote


    THE camp of Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte mentioned again yesterday their leader's proposal of a new federal system to devolve power from Manila to long-neglected regions, following confirmation that he will be the Philippines' next president, reported the local media.

    He has unquestionably won the presidency in Monday's vote after Liberal Party candidate Manuel Roxas, his closest contender, conceded defeat yesterday, reported the Update Philippines news website.

    Earlier, Senator Grace Poe, who was placed third in the vote count, had also thrown in the towel.

    It is not clear when Mr Duterte's victory will be officially declared but he is expected to take office on June 30.

    His spokesman Peter Lavina yesterday reiterated in Da-vao the leader's plan to change the country's current centralised system to one with power devolved to the provinces and parliament.

    Mr Duterte plans to have the new federal republic ushered in by 2022, when he completes his term.

    To get there, there will be consultations first with the people, followed by a plebiscite for the new constitution, and then preparation for the transition, in the next six years, according to the camp.

    Mr Duterte, who is in his seventh term as Davao's mayor, is known to detest the current system where "Manila gets everything" and "regions have to beg in the capital".

    According to the Pilipino Star Ngayon, many voters were also "mesmerised" by Mr Duterte's vow that he would stamp out crime in the country, just like he had done in Davao.

    He has spoken of killing the kidnappers, drug dealers and thieves, presumably by using extrajudicial death squads, and vowed no submission to the parliament should it impede his strong-arm rule.

    Some presidential candidates have warned that Mr Duterte might repeat the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos, who was overthrown in a People Power revolution in 1986.

    Mr Lavina also said Mr Duterte would seek peace agreements with the Moro National Liberal Front and other secessionist groups in the southern islands, which President Benigno Aquino has been trying to quell with military force.

    Mr Duterte is likely to seek a suspension of disputes with Beijing over South China Sea islands.

    "I would say to China, do not claim anything here - and I will not insist also that it is ours," Mr Duterte told reporters on Monday.

    He added that he would call for multilateral talks on the South China Sea that includes the United States and Japan, as well as China and other rival claimants.

    Meanwhile, he had told online news website Rappler that he will consider raising the 40 per cent foreign ownership limit in certain industries to win over investors.

    He also pledged to work with countries in the region to boost trade.