Philippine defence chief vows to protect sovereignty amid secession threats

MANILA: The Philippines’ defence minister on Monday (Feb 5) vowed to “strictly enforce” the country’s sovereignty, joining the chorus of security officials pledging to defend the nation following secessionist threats made by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte on Jan 30 called for the independence of his hometown island Mindanao in the southern Philippines as his alliance with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr disintegrated last week over disagreements around efforts to amend the constitution.

“The mandate of the Department of National Defense is to secure the sovereignty of the state and integrity of the national territory as enshrined in the constitution,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a statement.

“We will strictly enforce this mandate whether externally or internally,” he added.

Teodoro’s remarks echoed similar statements made by the national security adviser, who on Sunday, said the government will not hesitate to “use its authority and forces to quell and stop any and all attempts to dismember the Republic”.

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