Muslim leader: No to a separate Mindanao

Muslim leader: No to a separate Mindanao
SunStar Local News GPX

THE head of Cebu City’s Muslim community is against the proposed secession of Mindanao, or the notion of separating the region from the rest of the country to gain independence from the Philippines, saying that this would lead to divisions among Filipinos.

Ijodin Saripada Mamacol, executive director of the Office of Muslim Affairs and Indigenous Cultural Communities of Cebu City, said such a move would create conflicts for Muslims living in Mindanao and those who have moved elsewhere in the country like Cebu City.

“My stand is I really don’t agree with that. I reject such calls, which, if I am not mistaken, started with former President (Rodrigo) Duterte... I absolutely refuse to support the separation of Mindanao from the Philippines” he told SunStar Cebu on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Mamacol said every Filipino should be united and should not heed this call, which would result in the separation of the Mindanao region, which is home to majority of Filipino Muslims.

“It is Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. None of them should be separated,” he said.

‘Republic of Mindanao’

In late January, Duterte said local political groups in the Davao region would be organizing to initiate a signature campaign advocating for the independence of Mindanao from the Philippines.

Based on a SunStar Davao report published last Feb. 2, Duterte revealed plans to revive the Mindanao initiative allegedly due to the public’s huge disappointment with how the past and current administrations had been utilizing resources and taxpayers’ money.

Duterte’s pronouncements faced opposition from several government officials at the local, Senate, and Congress le­vels, with government agencies expressing no support, including the Department of Justice and Philippine National Police.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also opposed the call to separate Mindanao from the Philippines last Feb. 8, describing it as a “grave violation of the Constitution.”

“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,” Marcos said in a speech.


Mamacol said such a move would create division and conflicts within Muslim communities. Currently, every member of the community is in harmony, he said, and pushing for secession will only cause harm.

Mamacol added that most Muslim groups in Cebu City are also not in favor of secession and are praying that their situation right now will not worsen.

At present, around 9,000 Muslims live in Cebu City, a rise from last year’s estimated 6,000 Muslims during the celebration of Eid’l Adha.

He said Muslims are coming back to Cebu City as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said before the pandemic, there were more than 10,000 Muslims in Cebu City, but some chose to return to their hometowns in Mindanao during the global health crisis, and only 4,000 remained.

The Muslim leader said 80 percent of Muslims in Cebu City are Maranao, an ethnic group native to the region around Lanao Lake in Mindanao. Other Muslims are from the Maguindanaon and Tausug tribes.

Mamacol said he was also not in favor when the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) was granted for a more autonomous regional government.

The Barmm is an autonomous region in southern Philippines, created through the Bangsamoro Organic Law or Republic Act 11054, which was ratified in a plebiscite held in January 2019. While it enjoys significant autonomy in governance, Barmm remains under the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.

“If the Bangsamoro region already has autonomy, why push for the separation of Mindanao? It’s very politicized. Just politics,” he said.


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