On Mindanao secession

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

For some inexplicable reasons, I kind of believe in what the late American President John F Kennedy once remarked. “There are three things that are real. God, human folly and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third.” Today however, I, with profound apologies to Kennedy, venture to modify what he said. Because God is beyond our comprehension, we must do what we can with the second thing - human folly.

There is a growing confusion that is generated by this senseless and stupid call of the Dutertes for Mindanao to secede from the Philippine Republic. Since the internet defined folly as “the fact of being stupid or a stupid action,” I took the advice of President Kennedy to “do what (I) can with human folly. This secession news is hearsay to me though because I have not really heard former President Rodrigo Duterte declare that he would lead the Mindanao’s supposed secession from the Philippines even if social media postings are full of such attribution. But, I take it as a fact after listening to former Speaker of the House of Representatives Pantaleon Alvarez’s claim, in the Mangahas Interviews, that he was tasked by Duterte to lead this movement. To make my position clear, not that it matters, I hasten to add that this supposed move of Duterte and Alvarez is what President Kennedy might consider as human folly.

First, is this Duterte human folly constitutional? I ask this question in the light of the contrasting declarations of Representative Alvarez and former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio. Alvarez opined that the Mindanao secession is constitutional but Carpio declared it to be unconstitutional. The Davao congressman cited Article Two, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution which provides that “The Philippines is a republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them” as basis of the announced Mindanao secession. I imagined that he was only reading the text and not talking from memory because he seemed to grope. At best, Alvarez cited the correct constitutional provision for a wrong move. To be clear about it, the Davao legislator was wrong in quoting that proviso as justification for the independence movement.

Alvarez forgot what all lawyers know as basic principle - that sovereignty is absolute, inalienable. indivisible and permanent. That the sovereign Philippine state cannot be divided is squarely against Duterte’s secession movement. The practical way for Mindanao to be separated from the Philippines and become itself a state is to rise in arms, declare the island independent from the Philippines, organize its own government and make sure its forces, if any, can beat the Armed Forces of the Philippines that will be duty bound to crush their uprising. This is so because secession means, in simple terms, as the act of becoming independent and no longer part of a country.

Second. To humor Alvarez’s folly, it is my opinion that a Mindanao independence movement does not need a constitutional provision to anchor. It is a right of any nation to aspire to become a state. If the Mindanaoans indeed want to become a state, all they have got to do is take over all Philippine government offices there and maintain these against the Philippine armed forces. Or they can persuade all military men in Mindanao to tear their patches, renounce their allegiance to the Philippines and support a new government there. Of course, either way is violent, a matter that is contrary to assertion of Alvarez that theirs is a peaceful adventure.

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