Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mindanao Conflict: An Internal Problem of the State

The state has been very soft in treating the Muslim separatist rebels. Organized in 1970, conspiring with the leftist organization and then its resistance to the declaration of Martial Law, the rebels have all the reasons for uprising as well as all freedom loving Filipinos. But martial law has ended and there is no justification for any group to isolate themselves but to seek unity as a Filipino race instead.


The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) succeeded in furthering their cause with the establishment of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in l996 during the Ramos Administration. Meanwhile the disintegrated Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) gained prominence after the collapsed of MNLF. President Fidel Ramos gave the rebels a room to stretch their arms when he let the formation of a camp and a territory for the rebels. President Estrada in his time forced the rebels out of Camp Abubakar, the MILF Central Headquarter, in July 2000, and almost wiped them away. However, he angered other law-abiding Muslims when “he treated the brave soldiers by feasting on roasted pig, where pork is forbidden among Muslims.” (Manila Times, June l9, 2002) But President Arroyo gave back the camp thru the advice of Ramos and the intervention of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) that gave the rebels a chance to regroup and strengthen their position. The MILF rebels continued to gain support. The Bush Administration link MILF to Al Qaeda terrorist in its fight for independence. MILF succeeded in gaining Indonesia and Malaysia to be on their side in the negotiating table. Today the Arroyo government is on the brink of giving the rebels their own controlled domain, giving off almost one-third of the Philippines.


Filipinos regard their Muslim brothers as their own. Although they differ in some aspects of culture and religious beliefs, they are one in their heart and with the same blood they drained in their struggle for identity and as a nation. Only the separatist group are leading the move to gain power and prominence. The creation of ARMM did not deter the rebels to pursue their aims as they did not win in an election to head the Region. Their plan to create a separate and independent state may not be appropriate in the region of diverse political infirmities and where the majority of non-muslims are the inhabitants.


The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was scheduled to be signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was issued by the Supreme Court upon request of Mindanao officials whose residents staged a protest upon learning that their barangays or municipalities were included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.


If and when the MOA is signed it will be submitted to the people of Mindanao in a plebiscite. And there is no assurance that the people will vote for a self-governing region as the leaders of the affected provinces are against the MILF separatist ambition and that they were not consulted when their territories were included in the expanded autonomous region. It is noted that the government panel may not be construed that it was their sign of weakness when it conformed to the desire of the separatist rebels for self-rule. They know fully well, that in any referendum or plebiscite involving its adversary group, the rebels will never win considering the records of Filipino politicians rigging the election results. But the rebels will not stop and may stage more armed attack to expand their territories and disrupt the scheduled ARMM election on August 11. The rebels may spread out the hostilities in Southern Mindanao as there are reports that the MILF is linked with Al Qaeda terrorist and their secessionist movement will be further amplified. They have employed the support of Abu Sayyaf as well as the armed movement of communist insurgents.


Treatment of Muslim rebels will require an extraordinary caution and persistence. Muslims in the Philippines have a record of non-submission. They are comparable to the rebels of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their record of resistance to pressure more especially to outside rule may be traced to the Bud Dajo Massacre where Filipino Muslims, instead of giving up, took refuge in a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo and were massacred by American troops under General Leonard Wood on March 7, 1906. (See “What Happened at Bud Dajo” at www.boston.com)


Brazen Lass said...

North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel PiƱol was a guest in Umagang Kay Ganda this morning :P and it's amazing to hear from a politician words like:

On the issue that Esperon won't help in the fight in southern mindanao: "if they don't want to help, then we'll defend ourselves"

And regarding his reaction towards long-time friend and kumpadre Esperon: "Eventhough I was pained by what happened between us, all he has to do is to apologize and we'll all forget what happened and go on with our lives."

Rmagin said...

Thanks brazen lass,

Sorry for late comment reply and 'hope to read from you again.

On the topic, you know politicians have all hidden agenda. They try to evade responsibilities when being cornered and put to blame. Each will try to be in the better side whatever the cost.