CAGAYAN de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Sunday urged former President Rodrigo Duterte and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to stop any talk about separating Mindanao from the rest of the country.
He made the appeal after the President made it clear in his speech before the Philippine Constitution Association on Thursday that he would not allow any group to dismember the country.
“The former president, former Speaker and their followers should stop any talk and any actual plan, if there is any, to secede Mindanao. President Marcos has categorically stated that he would not permit our national territory to be reduced ‘even by one square inch’ and would not allow ‘even an iota of suggestion of its breaking apart’,” he said.
Further, PBBM said that our Constitution calls for a united, undivided country, eternal cohesion, and has no exit provision and does not allow rebellion; that we must galvanize our people and rally them to preserve the Republic and everything that our flag symbolizes — its three stars and its sun.
“President BBM is serious, and they should take his statements seriously,”Rodriguez said.
He noted that aside from the President’s commitment to preserve the national territory, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has vowed that any group that actually takes steps to dismember the country would be met with force.
Rodriguez said talks on secession won’t help Mindanao.
“It is counterproductive. It scares away investors. Most of our island – the Davao provinces in particular, the bailiwick of PRRD – is now economically progressive and peaceful, including the BARMM area,” he added.
He, however, pointed out that Mindanao still needs a bigger budget under the Marcos administration because in this year’s (2024) budget only 16% is given to Mindanao, far behind the Luzon regions and Metro Manila. Mindanao has 23% of the country’s population, produces 25% of the national wealth and has 7 of the Top 10 poorest provinces in the Philippines.
“Mindanaonons should trust and give a chance to President Marcos to support and develop Mindanao after all he is just 1 year and 7 months into his 6 year term,” Rodriguez added.
He noted the recent statement of Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, who hails from Mindanao, that the national government has been working to sustain peace and prosperity in the island, and that its programs were starting to bear fruit.
“Unlike in the past, our beloved island is represented in the Cabinet. So let’s take her word and stop all this secession talk, which which negates progress,” he stressed.