THE camp of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused administration bet Manuel Roxas II of twisting information about federalism, a form of government seen to put an end to the armed conflict and underdevelopment besieging Mindanao for decades.
Peter LaviAa, spokesman and head of Duterte's media team, said Roxas had only exposed his lack of knowledge on Mindanao when he attempted but failed to demolish the wisdom behind the federalism being pushed by Duterte.
He made his statement even as Duterte on Tuesday promised to build an airport in the extreme north if he becomes president.
Speaking to a crowd of 3,500 at the Dolores Civic Center in Dolores, Abra, Duterte noted that it takes around eight hours to travel to this province by land.
"Don't you have an airport here?" he said.
"I will build an airport in the extreme north plus a feeder road so the trip becomes faster."
Media reports had quoted Roxas as saying federalism meant another layer of taxes. He also said federalism would not solve the Mindanao problem.
Grace Poe, another presidential candidate, is opposed to federalism and last year said federalism would perpetuate dynasties.
LaviAa said, "Poe should know better."
"She only needs to look at governments that are federal in form-like the US. She should have known better. After all, she once lived the American Dream."
Before he announced his presidential bid, Duterte had been moving around the country conducting a series of consultations on federalism.
He said federalism would ensure the equal distribution of power and wealth, and that it would be the best alternative to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Duterte believes that federalism will end graft and corruption in the government and usher in meaningful development in the Philippines.
LaviAa said Roxas was clearly trying to use scare tactics and misleading the public by destroying federalism.
"He is wrong and his statement is misleading," LaviAa said.
"It is not about imposing taxes. It is about how taxes are shared and spent."
LaviAa said Roxas clearly wanted to protect the interest of the Aquino administration and those who wanted to control power.
"The current system is the source of the problem," LaviAa said.
"It is a form of government that controls power and dictates the pace of the nation. This is a form of government that is a breeding ground for corruption. This is what Roxas wants to protect."
LaviAa said federalism was also "about solving the Mindanao problem."
Duterte has repeatedly been saying that the Mindanao problem is the reason behind the slow growth of the Philippines.