By:  Macon Ramos-Araneta – August 28,2018 | Manila Standard

A major youth group has urged Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon Secretary Raul Lambino to accede to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for him to run for senator in the coming midterm elections in May next year.

Duterte told Lambino, also chief of the foremost economic zone and emerging financial technology hub in Northern Luzon, to take a crack at the Senate.

“He can be the voice not only of the youth of the country but of the other sectors who believe in providing equal opportunities for all Filipinos,” said Assistant Secretary Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema, commissioner of the National Youth Commission.

At a recent gathering of more than 6,000 political leaders in Davao City organized by the regional political party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Duterte made a personal pitch for Lambino for a potential candidacy, said Cardema.

“The President asked Secretary Lambino if he is ready for a Senate run,” said Cardema in a statement.

He further assured Lambino of support by the country’s youth.

An ardent advocate of federalism, believing it to be a force to unleash the nation’s economic potential, Lambino, a native of vote-rich Pangasinan and Ilocos Region, also serves as administrator and CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, which operates the special economic zone and freeport based in Santa Ana, Cagayan.

In recent months, Lambino has gathered unusual interest in the major project, “Crypto Valley of Asia,” a venture he envisions as a hub for financial technology development and cryptocurrency mining in Asia.

Cardema said Lambino in the Senate would give a major voice in the Administration’s push to shift the structure of government to the Federal system, replacing the unitary, Manila-centered system that has been widely blamed for the uneven development of the country’s various regions.

“If we want somebody who could best articulate the proposed changes in the Constitution and the adoption of a federal system, we need Secretary Lambino’s voice in the Senate,” Cardema said.

In the 2016 presidential elections, then-candidate Mayor Duterte made federalism a pillar in his platform of government to help end Muslim secession in Mindanao and also to bring about a more equitable development by empowering the regions.

Lambino, who is founding chairman of the Confederation of the Federal Movement for the Philippines, would be a key Senate leader for the other Administration bills that need urgent passage to complete the reforms and change that the President made as a campaign promise, Cardema said.