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Alvarez denies sedition, says Mindanao secession cause will be done peacefully

Former Speaker and Davao del Norte lawmaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Tuesday that his call for separation of Mindanao from the Philippines, a call shared by former President Rodrigo Duterte, is no criminal act and is a peaceful call to enable development in Mindanao.

Alvarez was responding to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Benjamin Acorda’s warning that  authorities will be strictly watching out for those calling for secession.

“Naiintindihan ko ‘yan [ang resulta]. On my part, I assume full responsibility on my actions. Hindi naman natin nanaisin na mauwi sa gulo. Kaya ang sinasabi ko, [it will be in a] peaceful [way]. Hindi tayo manggugulo,” Alvarez said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview.

(I understand the police’s response. On my part, I assume full responsibility on my actions. We do not want this to end in violence. That is why I am saying [it will be in a] peaceful [way]. We won’t stir violence.)

Alvarez also denied that his and Duterte’s call for Mindanao secession make them liable for the crime of inciting to sedition as suggested by Camiguin Governor Xavier Jesus Romualdo and his father, Representative Jurdin Jesus Romualdo.

The Revised Penal Code states that a crime of inciting to sedition is committed by “any person who, without taking any direct part in the crime of sedition, incite others to the accomplishment of any of the acts which constitute sedition, by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, cartoons, banners, or other representations tending to the same end, or upon any person or persons who shall utter seditious words or speeches, write, publish, or circulate scurrilous libels against the government, or any of the duly constituted authorities thereof."

Acts which constitute sedition also include “those which tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office, or which tend to instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes, or which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots, or which lead or tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the Government, or who shall knowingly conceal such evil practices."

“I studied it, and it appears that it does not fall under the elements of such crime. Kasi 'pag sedition, kailangan mo ng tumultuous affair,” Alvarez, a lawyer like Duterte, said.

(The crime of sedition calls for a tumultuous affair.)

“Hindi naman kami nanggugulo,” Alvarez added.

(We are not causing chaos.)

Alvarez then maintained that Mindanao secession has merits and could follow that of the prosperous island-state of Singapore, which used to be a part of Malaysia before it became an independent state.

“If the Singapore leaders were not brave enough to make that move, it would have remained a third world country,” Alvarez said.

He then cited the recent flooding in Davao Region in Mindanao that affected over 72,000 families and killed at least 18 people.

Alvarez said this happened in the aftermath of the Marcos administration’s alleged refusal to fund flood projects in the region.

“When this administration came in, a lot of pending flood control projects were removed in the national budget, in 2023 and 2024. Kaya kapag umulan nang todo-todo, bumabaha,” he said.

(So when it rains really hard, we are flooded.)

“Wala naman akong nakitang helicopter na lumilipad-lipad rito at tinitignan ang kalagayan ng taumbayan. Kulang [ang tulong galing sa gobyerno]. Sa totoo lang, kami-kami lang ang gumagawa ng paraan para i-address ang gutom ng mga biktima ng baha,” he added.

(I don’t see any helicopters coming in here to check on the affected families. The truth is, we are fending for ourselves to address hunger among flood victims.)

GMA News Online asked the Palace for comment but has yet to receive a reply as of posting time.

On Sunday, the National Security Council (NSC) said any secession bid will be met with "resolute force.”

“The National Government will not hesitate to use its authority and forces to quell and stop any and all attempts to dismember the Republic,” said National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año in a statement.

 “Any attempt to secede any part of the Philippines will be met by the government with resolute force, as it remains steadfast in securing the sovereignty and integrity of the national territory,” the NSC official added.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Acorda on Monday expressed opposition to the call for separation of Mindanao from the Philippines.

“These are all defined through our Constitution, iyong territory natin, iyong sovereignty natin. Kumbaga it's not good na after all these sacrifices of our heroes and other kababayans and now that we are enjoying peace,” Acorda said.

(These are all defined through our Constitution, our territory, our sovereignty. I guess it's not good after all these sacrifices of our heroes and other countrymen and now that we are enjoying peace.)

“If there are any efforts of secession or to secede a portion of our country parang hindi maganda and it will only entail…magulo. Ang pinakamaganda talaga diyan is let us be united and let us not entertain these ideas. After all, mapayapa naman tayo, tahimik naman tayo,” he added.

(If there are any efforts of secession or to secede a portion of our country, it doesn't seem good and it will only entail... chaos. The best thing is let us be united and let us not entertain these ideas. After all, we are peaceful.)

For his part, Teodoro said the Department of National Defense will keep its mandate securing the State and the integrity of the national territory.

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday called on Filipinos to be united in light of the proposal to separate Mindanao from the Philippines.

"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. —With a report from Anna Felicia Bajo/KG, GMA Integrated News