Philippines sees growing rift over calls for Mindanao to secede

A rift between the current and former Philippine presidents is growing. The administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is pushing back against calls by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte for Mindanao Island in the south to secede.

Duterte held a news conference and laid out plans to launch a campaign for the independence of Mindanao, his hometown.

Local media say the move may be an attempt by Duterte to keep out of the International Criminal Court's investigation of his so-called "war on drugs". The brutal anti-narcotics crackdown left thousands dead.

The Philippines left the international court in 2019. But last year the court authorized the resumption of its investigation.
Duterte reportedly said that if Mindanao separates from the Philippines, the ICC will no longer be able to enter.

Philippine National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano criticized Duterte's move. He said that the government would not hesitate to quell any attempts to dismember the Republic.

Mindanao experienced more than four decades of violence and conflict as Islamic militants clashed with government forces. They wanted independence from the largely Catholic nation.

The two sides agreed on a peace deal in 2014. The region is expected to establish an autonomous government next year.