Año: Gov’t to use ‘resolute’ force to quell attempts to divide PH

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 4, 2024, 3:44 pm

<p>National Security Adviser Eduardo Año<em> (PNA file photo)</em></p>

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – National Security Adviser Eduardo Año emphasized on Sunday that the government will do everything to prevent any attempt to dismember the country.

“Any attempt to secede any part of the Philippines will be met by the government with resolute force," Año said in a statement as he rejected the idea to separate Mindanao from the rest of the Philippines.

The government, he said, would remain steadfast in securing the sovereignty and integrity of the national territory.

"The National Government will not hesitate to use its authority and forces to quell and stop any and all attempts to dismember the Republic,” Año, also the chief of the National Security Council (NSC), added.

He also urged the public to remain vigilant against those who would attempt to sow discord, which, he added, would undermine the country’s hard-won gains in pursuing peace and development, particularly in Mindanao.

"The strength of our country lies in our unity and any attempt to sow division must be rejected by all sectors unequivocally. It is imperative for all Filipinos to uphold the principles enshrined in our Constitution which espouses the unity and territorial integrity of our nation," Año said.

Many local Mindanao leaders have already expressed opposition to the call made by former President Rodrigo Duterte to separate Mindanao from the rest of the country.

"While recognizing the richness of Mindanao's natural resources and culture, it is essential to approach discussions about its development and autonomy within the framework of national unity, solidarity, and supremacy of the Constitution,” he said.

He also maintained that the comprehensive peace process, which led to the end of decades of armed conflict in Mindanao, must be safeguarded at all times as "the dividends of peace are now clearly evident in the transformation of the entire Mindanao from a region of volatility and violence to one of progress, stability, hope."

Earlier, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said that secession is not the solution to Mindanao’s problems, as he urged all stakeholders to uphold the sanctity of the Philippine Constitution for a strong, united, and undivided nation.

“Secession is not the answer to Mindanao’s concerns. It would violate the fundamental tenets of our Constitution. It would destroy the territorial integrity of the Philippines, and disrupt decades of painstaking effort to build a stronger union among all our peoples and ethnicities,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

Abalos said the people’s right to self-determination, which means pursuing political, economic, social, and cultural development while respecting the state’s territorial integrity and legal processes should be exercised within the framework of the State.

“Indeed, the people of Mindanao have the freedom to make political choices or pursue economic, social, and cultural progress. Various mechanisms make manifest the government’s respect and recognition for the development needs of Mindanao, such as the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM),” he said.

Abalos said BARMM is a powerful example of addressing historical grievances and providing self-governance within the bounds of Philippine law. (With a report from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)