It is no secret that the most prominent and vocal among the leaders of the groups against the plan to have a Charter Change through the so-called “People’s Initiative” is former President Rodrigo Duterte (FPRRD) and former House Speaker Davao del Norte Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. Both are Mindanaoans and they come from the Davao Region.
Duterte who won in his bid for the Presidency in 2016 coasted to Malacanang with his campaign promise to have the Constitution changed and the Philippine government converted into a Federal form. Alvarez, with Duterte’s and his former patron Antonio Floirendo, Jr.’s backing was catapulted to the House Speaker’s post in easy fashion. He was eased out later when he was reported to have crossed swords with then Davao City Mayor and now Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Despite his strained relation with the younger Duterte daughter Alvarez managed to remain a friend to the former President. This continued friendship was confirmed with the appearance of the former Speaker in the Prayer Rally and Leaders Forum held the other Sunday in Davao City. The twin activities were both aimed to strongly manifest the organizing groups’ rejection of the People’s Initiative signature solicitation allegedly with financial “incentives.”
As reported in the local media using police estimate of the number of attendees some 53 thousand joined the activities. Of course there were those who doubted the figure claimed by the police based on a scientific mood of estimating the number of persons in a crowd.
If people will agree with the police estimate then it could only mean that there was and will be outpouring of support to the positions of the former President and former House Speaker opposing the Cha-cha through the People’s Initiative.
Unfortunately, the subsequent pronouncements of the top anti-Cha-cha leaders somehow betrayed their apprehension that they might not have fully received the people’s backing. In other words they could be suspicious that the number of participants in the forum and prayer rally is not reflective of the true sentiment of those who came. Why, because the leaders of the organizing groups were fully aware that the participants coming were enticed with free meals and snacks, give-away t-shirts, and free transportation from back to their respective places of origin.
And while it is true that there was a message purportedly intended to participants from outside of Davao City “to take care of your own transportation needs” it is easier doubted than believed.
And the betrayal of their hidden apprehension about the success of the twin activities’ attaining its primary objective even became more overt when the leaders of the anti-charter change offered another option for Mindanaoans to take. That is, to revive the movement to secede Mindanao from the Philippines and declare the island as a new country.
Indeed it is surprising that the oppositionist leaders to the People’s Initiative movement will go that far if they know they have the majority of the Filipinos’, most especially from the people of Mindanao, behind their backs.
And what could even be more questionable as to its motive was when the former President said in his speech that there were already several presidents that passed – and certainly he was aware he is one of them – but Mindanao has not been given what is rightly due the island. Without doubt he was referring to Mindanao’s fair share of development projects.
Now the former President and former Speaker want to break away from Luzon and the Visayas. The question: Is it constitutionally possible? If it is, and the rest of the Filipinos in the other islands reject the proposal, what option will the secession movement take – organize and armed groups and declare a rebellion to attain the separation of Mindanao?
Will the incumbent government just allow the armed forces whose main mandate is to protect and preserve the country’s existing territories to just keep a passive role as if watching a sailboat passing by?
We can only hope that those who lead in the call for the separation of Mindanao from the rest of the Philippines will realize the gravity of the possible implications of their appeal whatever their motives are.
Honestly, we still believe that many of the Filipinos do not think the present dispensation has gone quite far astray from its desire to bring back the Philippines to its feet after a devastating pandemic brought down its economy to its knees together with other countries of the world. And if it has committed “sins” to some persons who feel politically unstable by what they perceive as the administration people’s omissions, it is still our take that it is not reason enough to call for a Mindanao secession.
And by the way, how many Mindanaoan leaders these days, whether they are for or against the separation of Mindanao as another nation, have posh residences in high-end subdivisions and condominiums in Metro Manila or Cebu City? Pray, tell the Mindanaoans.
If they can come up with a more credible and highly justifiable reason other than personal politics, then we will come running to where the tables are for us to affix our signature to join the secession movement.
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