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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged advocates of an independent Mindanao to drop the agenda, a week after former president Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on the subject made national headlines.
“I strongly appeal to all concerned to stop this call for a separate Mindanao. This is a grave violation of the Constitution,” he said in a speech on Thursday, February 8, at the Constitution Day event of the Manila Overseas Press Club.
“The new call for a separate Mindanao is doomed to fail, for it is anchored on a false premise, not to mention a sheer constitutional travesty. The current leadership of BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) itself has repudiated this preposterous proposal,” he added.
On January 30, Duterte said he had asked former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to lead the movement because he was the first to lead efforts “about the desirability of Mindanao seceding from the Republic of the Philippines.”
Duterte thought of achieving the goal through a signature campaign, while insisting the effort would not be tantamount to rebellion or secession.
On Thursday, Marcos asserted that the Constitution does not entertain the concept of secession.
“Unlike in other constitutions, there is nothing in ours that allows the breaking up of this union, such as an exit provision. On the contrary, the Constitution does not recognize the right to rebellion, while our criminal laws punish it. The government has sternly enforced these laws to the letter and spirit, and this administration will be no exception,” Marcos added.
Several Mindanaoan leaders – including BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim – have thumbed down Duterte’s call for an independent Mindanao.
Former Duterte-era Cabinet members who are now part of the Marcos administration have also rejected the former president’s call.
“The national government will not hesitate to use its authority and forces to quell and stop any and all attempts to dismember the Republic. Any attempt to secede any part of the Philippines will be met by the government with resolute force, as it remains steadfast in securing the sovereignty and integrity of the national territory,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, Duterte’s interior chief, said on Sunday, February 4. – Rappler.com