Reject Duterte’s call for independent Mindanao – Galvez

By: John Eric Mendoza - IINQUIRER.net | February 03,2024 - 08:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday urged the public to reject former President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for an independent Mindanao, saying it would only lead to destabilizing the country.

“Mindanao has already shed its image as a land of volatility, violence, and armed struggle,” Galvez said in a statement.

“Let us, therefore, turn away from any call or movement that aims to destabilize our beloved nation, especially to separate Mindanao from the rest of the country,” he added.

Galvez, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ chief under Duterte, also slammed the former commander-in-chief’s call, underscoring that it was blatantly unconstitutional.

“[T]his call for separation is anathema to the letter and spirit of the Philippine Constitution, which is the bulwark of our nation’s identity as a people,” Galvez said.

Duterte said on Tuesday that local political forces would be regrouping in the Davao Region to start a movement for Mindanao independence.

According to Duterte, the new movement, which he said “won’t be a bloody one,” would be headed by Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, a former House speaker.

Duterte said Mindanao would rather be “independent since nothing has happened in the Philippines after so many presidents.”

But Galvez noted that the country was already “benefiting and enjoying the dividends” of the comprehensive peace process — which included the Bangsamoro autonomy — that has put an end to decades of armed conflict in Mindanao with members of former revolutionary groups “playing an active part in nation-building.”

READ: Gutoc: Young, professional Muslims are allergic to Mindanao independence

In 2018,  Duterte played an important role in establishing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law,  strengthening the current autonomy set-up of the region, giving the new Bangsamoro government more control over resources and political power.

“We cannot afford to return to square one,” Galvez said.

“We must learn our lessons from the past and apply these to all aspects of our life as peace-loving citizens. Let us always choose peace and remain united, as it is the only way to move forward as one people and one nation,” he added.

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