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Marcos unperturbed by calls for Mindanao secession – Abalos

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Marcos unperturbed by calls for Mindanao secession � Abalos
Abalos said the matter was not tackled during Marcos’ sectoral meeting on Tuesday with officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Philippine National Police on addressing cybercrime and cybersecurity.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos is unperturbed by the recent call of his predecessor former president Rodrigo Duterte to separate Mindanao from the Philippines, according to Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.

Abalos said the matter was not tackled during Marcos’ sectoral meeting on Tuesday with officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Philippine National Police on addressing cybercrime and cybersecurity.

“No, we didn’t talk about it,” Abalos said.

Asked whether or not the Chief Executive has made specific directives relating to the call for Mindanao secession, Abalos responded, “He ignored it. Let’s put it that way.”

At a Palace briefing on Tuesday, PNP chief Benjamin Acorda Jr. said police officers in Mindanao are not supporting the call to separate the region from the Philippines.

“They say, let’s not go back to those days. Let’s give peace a chance,” Acorda said.

Asked whether the agency has conducted loyalty check among their ranks, he replied: “Well, checking of counter-intelligence is part of our job. And every commander is really required, it’s part of their job.”

“Now, my take is that when we took our oath as police officers or even in the positions, part of it is upholding the rule of law and the Constitution. So, that’s really part of our job, we see to it that the territory is protected,” he said.

Several officials of the Marcos administration, including National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, have rejected calls for Mindanao secession.

“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,” Año said.

“The strength of our country lies in our unity and any attempt to sow division must be rejected by all sectors unequivocally,” he said.

Former House speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez said Mindanao secession has merits and could follow that of the island-state of Singapore, which used to be a part of Malaysia.

The call for Mindanao secession came after Duterte accused Marcos of being a drug addict in an expletive-filled speech in Davao City that showed a deepening rift between the two families.

Asked to react to Duterte’s tirades, Marcos has said the use of highly addictive painkiller fentanyl may have taken a toll on his predecessor.

In an interview in Vietnam on Jan. 30, Marcos said his partnership with Duterte’s daughter, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte remains intact despite the recent tirades made by her father against him.

“It’s exactly the same because she hasn’t said anything of that nature… So it hasn’t changed,” Marcos said.

Secession Alvarez’s idea

Alvarez, a friend of former president Duterte, said he is taking full responsibility for his proposal to have the whole of Mindanao separated from the entire country, but clarified this will in no way be used with any kind of force.

Duterte earlier urged to revive a movement for Mindanao independence, saying he had asked Alvarez to lead it because he was among the first to circulate papers “about the desirability of Mindanao seceding from the Republic of the Philippines.”

“I assume full responsibility for my actions. I can understand the response of the Philippine National Police. Of course, we don’t want this to end in violence, that’s why I’m saying this will be done in a peaceful way. We will not stir violence,” the Davao del Norte congressman asserted.

Alvarez issued the remarks after Rep. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo and his son, Gov. Xavier Jesus of Camiguin province, warned that both Duterte and Alvarez can be held criminally liable for inciting to sedition for such pronouncements.

The former speaker believes they violated no law and only wanted Mindanao’s development.

LP: Desperate attempt

Duterte’s calls for the secession of Mindanao is a “desperate attempt” to avoid accountability for his actions during his presidency, according to the Liberal Party.

LP spokesperson and former senator Leila de Lima said Duterte is using the secession issue to “divert attention” as the former president faces legal repercussions from his controversial war on drugs being probed by the International Criminal Court.

“We believe this rhetoric is not motivated by a genuine desire for regional development,” De Lima said. — Cecille Suerte Felipe, Michael Punongbayan, Delon Porcalla, Daphne Galvez

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BENHUR ABALOS

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