More officials oppose Mindanao secession

More officials oppose Mindanao secession

/ 05:20 AM February 06, 2024

Benjamin Acorda Jr.

Benjamin Acorda Jr.

The defense chief and the country’s top cop on Monday echoed the earlier remarks of other security officials in rejecting former President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Mindanao’s independence.

“If there are any efforts of secession or to secede a portion of our country, it doesn’t seem good and it will only entail… chaos. We might not pull through,” Philippine National Police chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said in a mix of English and Filipino during a press briefing at Camp Crame.


“The best thing to do is let us be united and let us not entertain these ideas. After all, we are peaceful,” he said.


According to Acorda, he doesn’t “see anything that is a reason for us to worry about this separation.” But he added that the PNP was monitoring the situation in Mindanao.

He reminded the police force to stay “apolitical” and warned that any officer taking part in a move to have Mindanao secede from the country would be relieved or transferred “to make sure they are not a part of such an act.”

In a statement, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. vowed to “strictly enforce” his agency’s mandate “to secure the sovereignty of the State and integrity of the national territory as enshrined in the Constitution.”

Article I of the Constitution states that the “national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago,” including “all the islands and waters embraced therein” as well as and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of “its terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains” and its “submarine areas.”

Local forces

Duterte said last week that there are local forces regrouping to push for a “separate and independent Mindanao.” His remarks followed in the wake of his speech in a rally on Jan. 28 against Charter change, during which he further accused Mr. Marcos of being a “drug addict.”

The President dismissed those comments, noting that his predecessor, by his own admission, had been on the powerful drug fentanyl.


On Sunday, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the government would not hesitate “to quell and stop any and all attempts to dismember the Republic.”

Also during the weekend, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. made the rounds of some military camps in Mindanao, including the Eastern Mindanao Command in Duterte’s bailiwick of Davao City.

He reminded the troops that there is “only one Philippines” and that they swore an oath “that we will always follow the chain of command, be loyal to the Constitution and our duly constituted authorities.”

‘United country’

The Department of Justice (DOJ) also rejected the call for Mindanao’s secession as being “contrary to the principles of democratic society.”

“As the principal law agency of the executive branch, the DOJ remains committed to protecting our sovereignty and upholding the sanctity of the highest law of the land,” the department said.

Two of the country’s national organizations of local executives also expressed opposition to Mindanao’s separation from the country.

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) “supports the Department of the Interior and Local Government [in] its call for a united country to continue our achievements in peace, progress and prosperity,” the group’s president, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, said in a statement.

LCP, an organization of 149 cities in the country, was established by the Local Government Code of 1991.

“Our nemesis is a divided nation. We are stronger when we are united through God’s blessings,” Rama said.

READ: Año: Any secession move to be met with force

The Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (Ulap), the umbrella organization for all groups of local executives, said the national and local governments as well as community and civil society groups should “collaborate towards inclusive and sustainable development across the Philippines.”

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Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua, Ulap national president, said the country should “maintain the integrity of its national territory while recognizing and celebrating diverse local and regional identities, including Mindanao.” —WITH REPORTS FROM DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN AND MELVIN GASCON INQ

TAGS: Mindanao, Secession

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