53 Mindanaoan lawmakers reject Duterte’s calls for Mindanao secession 

Rodrigo Duterte
Former President Rodrigo Duterte during an event of the Young Mens’ Christian Association of Manila on Oct. 28, 2024.
Facebook / Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines — Fifty-three House lawmakers from Mindanao signed a manifesto on Wednesday that expressed opposition to former President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to secede Mindanao, saying that the challenges that have beset the region can be solved through a “united and sovereign Philippines."

The manifesto — signed by 57 House members overall, including some partylist representatives and one lawmaker from Visayas — rejected Duterte’s calls for an independent Mindanao as this would go against what they described as their "belief in national unity" and "the power of inclusive development."

The manifesto also acknowledged the problems plaguing Mindanao's development but emphasized the need for collective action and shared responsibility.

The current Marcos administration's efforts to address disparities in the region "reinforce our conviction that the aspirations of Mindanaoans for autonomy, recognition and development can be realized more effectively with the context of a united and sovereign Philippines," the manifesto read.

The statement also added that the path to "peace and security" is aligned with the government's commitment to reconciliation and the empowerment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Without naming names, the manifesto also called for the "diligent prosecution" of individuals "fostering disunity... blatantly violating our Constitution and threatening the sovereign integrity of our nation."

"It is therefore imperative that we stand together to protect our constitutional democracy through legal means, ensuring that those who seek to divide us are held accountable under the full extent of the law," the manifesto read.

To recall, former President Rodrigo Duterte and former House speaker and current Davao del Norte representative Pantaleon Alvarez issued calls to support an independent Mindanao early February.

Marcos said on February 8 that this campaign to secede Mindanao was "doomed to fail," especially after BARMM leaders rebuked the proposal. 

Marcos also described Duterte's secession proposal as a "grave violation of the Constitution." — Cristina Chi

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