MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Thursday that calls for independence for the country’s southern island of Mindanao were a “constitutional travesty” and “doomed to fail.”
It is the first time he has addressed the issue since his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, called for his home island to break away, as his alliance with Marcos collapses very publicly amid insults and disagreements over constitutional reform.
“The new call for a separate Mindanao is doomed to fail, for it is anchored on a false premise, not to mention a sheer constitutional travesty,” Marcos said in a speech on Constitution Day without naming his outspoken predecessor.
“I strongly appeal to all concerned to stop this call for a separate Mindanao. This is a grave violation of the constitution,” he said. “This is not the new Philippines that we are trying to mold. Rather this would destroy the country.”
Marcos’ national security adviser on Sunday said the government would not hesitate to “use its authority and forces to quell and stop any and all attempts to dismember the Republic.”
That was followed by Marcos’ defense chief on Monday vowing to strictly enforce the country’s sovereignty after Duterte’s secessionist threats.
Duterte was the first Philippine president to hail from resource-rich Mindanao, which has been plagued by violence and conflict for decades as the government battled insurgents and extremists. The unrest has discouraged investment there and left many villages in poverty.
— Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Hugh Lawson