IN the heat of the recent political exchanges between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, the latter threatened that he would move for the separation of Mindanao from the Philippines. There is nothing new to this because there were other attempts in the past to sever Mindanao from the Philippine Republic.

The earliest was during American colonial rule when big American corporations lobbied the US Congress to declare Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan as a separate territory. This was to purportedly protect its predominantly Muslim population and allow foreign investors to develop its rich agricultural lands. The move (i.e., the Bacon Bill) was successfully thwarted by Filipino politicians.

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