Discord. Disappointment. Threats. These are the themes that hovered around the week that was, almost suggesting a menacing dilemma piercing our country’s sovereignty. If this contention seems convoluted, a rephrasing could nail the idea right to its tracks. Picture an ex-lover who feels dejected by his beloved. Faced with a ripe opportunity, he makes use of his freedom of speech to rant, even expose the contents of pandora’s box involving his erstwhile darling. Adding bitterness to the already tattered relationship, the recipient talks back, engages in histrionics, and hurls an accusation that he himself is confronted with.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte has stirred the tides anew when he recently challenged the charter change efforts of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Tensions between the heads of the Duterte clan and the Marcoses exploded into an awkward situation where dirty rugs were laundered. As Duterte accused Marcos of attempting to stay in power beyond his term limits by dancing to a ChaCha, the latter shrugged the allegation off and alluded to foreign investment support as justification for the charter variation. The fuss, however, escalated into tirades of drug use and fentanyl fog, one against the other. As if taking a cue from the Chinese New Year revelry, Duterte ignited the pyrotechnics early by calling for a secession of his home region Mindanao from the rest of the Republic of the Philippines. Who knows how long the sparklers will carry on.
Whether a separation of the southern islands from the rest of the Philippines will indeed transpire (which I highly doubt), might not invite a ready answer in the horizon, considering that the challenger still holds a significant clout over his many die hard supporters versus the accessible arm of the military for the leader being challenged. With a growing number of disgruntled PBBM enthusiasts (or so I heard), the secession innuendo remains a possibility but not a probability. Yet former President Duterte insists it can be done, the legal way, citing Timor Leste as an example.
The way I see it though, the quandary is interwoven throughout the woof and warp of the already fragile fabric embracing our current political environment. With the yet unresolved controversy anent confidential funds, the ongoing investigations by an international criminal court, and the buildup of new contestants in the 2028 national elections, the Filipino people could regrettably be a derelict. The confusion amongst our people could metamorphose into something perilous as we are faced with a Gordian Knot in the political and social arena, one that is too difficult to untie with nary a clear remedy at hand. Otherwise stated, it could be a problem insoluble in its own terms.
Harking back to the bold proposal of “divorce” by Mindanao, most Filipinos I know who live in that region are generally satisfied with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region solution. To them, secession is not the solution but communication! As a lawyer friend puts it, the DNA that forms every Filipino wherever he may be found is the same organic chemical that runs through the Filipinos who reside in Mindanao. To separate this region from the one country called Philippines will not make them any less Filipino, except that it will be figuratively detached from its mother-nation. It seems very uncertain that Mindanao can come out stronger after getting disjointed.
The dilemma of cutting the Gordian Knot could be settled by addressing first the need of those residing in Mindanao. The secessionist resolution is a formula expedient for the rest of our challenges, be it in the political sphere, or in our personal lives. In application, one needs an unblemished orientation that the Republic of the Philippines is a sovereign state, with 7,107 islands spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers of territory, and divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. And by national territory, Article I of the 1987 Constitution states that it “comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.”
The islands may be grouped into three, but their colors reflect one solid territory.
In the spiritual realm, believers cling to the truth that they are the branches of a vine: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Our relationship and connection with our Heavenly Creator is depicted in this biblical verse—we are needy branches.
Some scholars said that vines are high-maintenance agricultural crops that need constant pruning and attention for clusters of grapes to grow healthy and abundantly. In relation to Jesus, we are branches that need a life-giving and all-sustaining vine. We can run to Him, confess our neediness and be confident that He can provide. The more we realize that we need Jesus in our lives, and the more conscious we are of our righteousness with God because of Christ’s sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21), the easier for us to receive and be a blessing.
This vine metaphor is the right perspective for every Filipino regardless of which region of the Philippines they may be situated. Each island in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao all need the Republic of the Philippines because we emanate from and form part of it. In deference to our original name Las Islas Filipinas in 1521, to our declaration of independence in 1898, and our formal independence as a sovereign nation in 1946, we need only look to our beloved Philippines to sustain our hearts of patriotism. Secession of Mindanao or none, we are still from this country and collectively called “Filipinos.” When we become more conscious of our collective identity by the sacrifice of those who came before us, the easier it will be to untie any Gordian Knot that this country may face. May we not waste these centuries of testing and victory by splitting from our core.
A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.
For questions and comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.