THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that separating Mindanao from the entire Philippines will be no good for the country as it will degrade its territorial integrity.
In a statement on Friday, February 2, 2024, DILG secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. said in order to ensure a long-lasting peace, progress, and development in the Mindanao region, the Philippines must remain united and undivided.
“It would violate the fundamental tenets of our Constitution. It would destroy the territorial integrity of the Philippines and disrupt decades of painstaking effort to build a stronger union among all our peoples and ethnicities,” he added.
Abalos urged all stakeholders to uphold the sanctity of the Philippine Constitution for a strong, united, and undivided nation.
He said the people’s right to self-determination, which means pursuing political, economic, social, and cultural development while respecting the state’s territorial integrity and legal processes should be exercised within the framework of the State.
“Indeed, the people of Mindanao have the freedom to make political choices or pursue economic, social, and cultural progress. Various mechanisms make manifest the government’s respect and recognition for the development needs of Mindanao, such as the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM),” he said.
“The BARMM is a powerful example of addressing historical grievances and providing self-governance within the bounds of Philippine law,” he added.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte revealed their plan to revive the Mindanao initiative which aims to separate Mindanao from the Republic of the Philippines.
Duterte said that secession is not a rebellion nor a sedition as it will take a legal process.
“Kasi ilang presidente na eh, walang nangyari sa Pilipinas (Despite having had several presidents, nothing has happened in the Philippines),” he said.
Prior to this, Duterte has expressed displeasure to the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. push for charter change through People’s Initiative.
President Adviser on Peace and Reconciliation Carlito Galvez Jr. urged the public to “turn away” calls for an independent Mindanao, noting that it will destabilize the country.
Galvez served as the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under Duterte’s administration.
Meanwhile, several chief executives in Mindanao stood firm as they expressed opposition to Duterte’s call.
Maguindanao del Sur Governor Bai Mariam Sangki Mangudadatu said that Mindanao secession will deny the Constitutional rights of their people and will compromise government’s efforts to build a stronger Philippines.
She maintained that separation of Mindanao is not the answer to the problem in the region.
“Mindanao is a mirror of diversity, progress, and preserving peace. Unity leads to peace, development, and prosperity. Contrary to instability, underdevelopment, and disorder,” she said.
“We affirm that secession is not the answer to Mindanao’s concern. It denies our people the rights embodied by the constitution, including the destruction of our territorial integrity compromising our efforts to build a stronger nation,” she added.
Sultan Kudarat Governor Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu also affirmed his commitment to democracy, inclusivity and justice as he called for unity and one united Philippines.
He said that separating Mindanao from the rest of the Philippines will bring disruption of productivity in all of its three regions.
“Mindanao’s concerns should be resolved without pursuing secession. Such division would infringe the fundamental doctrines of our Constitution. It would disrupt the interconnected productivity of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that has long sustained our national economy, and risk fracturing the foundation of our unity and national stability,” he said.
“In the spirit of unity, let us reaffirm our commitment to the principles of democracy, inclusivity, and justice. We must move forward stronger as one undivided nation under a collective objective of stability and progress,” he added.
The governors of the Bangsamoro region for their part rallied behind the Marcos’ administration.
“His consistent and substantial policy statements and programs have instilled a sense of stability since assuming office,” the statement read.
“The Bagong Pilipinas program stands as a testament to his steadfast commitment to ensuring that the government’s presence is felt through the efficient delivery of services to people and communities,” they added.
The statement was signed by Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali, Basilan Governor Hajiman Hatama-Salliman, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr., and Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua. (SunStar Philippines)