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57 Mindanao solons ink manifesto vs secession

Fifty-seven lawmakers from Mindanao have signed a manifesto expressing their opposition to the proposal to separate Mindanao from the Philippines.

In their manifesto, the lawmakers said their stance "is deeply rooted in our belief in national unity, the power of inclusive development, and the promise of a peaceful, progressive future for all Filipinos, including the indigenous people of Mindanao."

Although they did not mention any names, the lawmakers also called for the "diligent prosecution of all individuals and entities fostering disunity among our people, blatantly violating our Constitution, and threatening the sovereign integrity of our nation."

"Such actions not only undermine our democratic principles, the peace and security of our communities, and the collective welfare of the Filipino people but also betrays our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, imposing upon ourselves this solemn obligation voluntarily, without mental reservation and purpose of evasion," they said.

Among those who called for the secession of Mindanao from the Philippines were former President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

Duterte and Alvarez both argued that the separation of Mindanao from the Philippines is needed because Mindanao has been long rejected by the national government, and that development could only be achieved if it is allowed to pursue its bid for self determination. 

Alvarez had said that they will pursue their secession plan without taking arms

But according to the lawmakers who signed the manifesto, it is imperative for Filipinos to stand together to protect their constitutional democracy through legal means.

"We stand for fostering understanding and collaboration across all communities within the framework of the Republic, enriching our shared national identity and heritage," they said. —Llanesca Panti/KBK, GMA Integrated News