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15 September 2011



      The comprehensive solution to the Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Mindanao is still hanging in suspended animation. The active stakeholders composed of the Philippine government, Bangsamoro freedom fighters and the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) have yet to reach consensus in solving the social crisis that has crippled the growth and development not only of war-ravaged Mindanao, but as well the whole Philippine nation.

       Indeed, how does one solve peacefully the Filipino-Moro conflict that was triggered by the arbitrary incorporation of the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan (MINSUPALA) in 1946 into the newly-formed Philippine Republic through the conspiracy of the U.S. government and the Philippine Commonwealth regime? The historical tragic event, displaying the megalomaniac, economic and political greed of oligarch Filipino politicians, like Manuel L. Quezon, Manuel Roxas, Claro M. Recto and Elpidio Quirino, among others, has had only resulted to the restive uprising of the colonized Bangsamoro people. It is recorded that the stark opposition to Philippine colonialism started in the early post-war years with the upheaval staged by Datu Abdulmajid Panoniongan and Datu Tawantawan in Lanao and the uprising in Sulu by Tuan Hajal Ouh of Patikul and Maas Kamlon of Luuk.

       As noted in Bangsamoro and Philippine history, the 7-year Kamlon revolt rendered Luuk and extensive areas of the island of Sulu a "no man's land" as an endless target of aerial and sea bombings as well as ground cannon and mortal bombardments from the Philippine military occupation forces.

The Ipil, Maimbung Massacre in Sulu - Feb 4, 2008. resulted in the killing of eight persons, including two children and a pregnant woman. Survivors called the incident in Ipil, Maimburg, Sulu, a massacre in which Philippine soldiers burned down houses and indiscriminately fired upon villagers.  (Photo-www.chrispforr.net)

     The AFP Nenita Unit, a contingent fresh from the Korean campaign and considered the best military outfit in the Philippines was even sent to Sulu. But, it was literally wiped out in Kapaya, Sulu, by the Bangsamoro warriors under the Tausug mass leader, Maas Kamlon, who was later tricked to surrender, imprisoned, pardoned and gracefully died in old age.

     The strong protest to Philippine colonial rule by the oppressed Bangsamoro people was even registered in the Christian Filipino-dominated Philippine Congress in early 1960s. Expressing formal protest against Philippine colonialism, Sultan Ombra Amilbangsa, serving as the Representative of Sulu (including Tawi-Tawi) in Philippine Congress, demanded the independence of Sulu archipelago. He introduced Congress House Bill 5682 calling for "Granting and Recognizing the independence of the Province of Sulu," symbolizing strong discontent against Philippine colonialism. As expected, the kangaroo Philippine Congress never acted on it and simply consigned the bill into historical foot note.

     However, the protest of the oppressed Bangsamoro people against the Manila government became intensively felt during the closing 1960s up to the 1970s, sparking the formation of the Moro National Liberation Liberation (MNLF) that embodied the collective sentiments of the Muslims of Mindanao to struggle for freedom and independence. This was ignited by the heinous Jabidah massacre of sixty eight Moro youth trainees by Philippine military soldiers in Corrigidor island. The Gestapo-like special Filipino military troops were under the command of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Major Eduardo Martelino, who was even promoted one rank higher by the tyrant Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos for the bastard crime.

     Thus, the Mindanao war had since escalated with the emergence of the MNLF beginning in the early 1970s, harvesting media coverage worldwide. In the annual meetings of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the tragic Bangsamoro Question was elevated to the consciousness of humanity similarly with the Palestine Question. As the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao raged on, resulting in repeated massacres and more killings of both civilian and combatant Muslims as well as countless material losses, including house-buildings, mosques, madrasah, school houses, etc., it forced the Philippine government to seek OIC intervention. The OIC mediation led to the peace talks in Tripoli, Libya in 1976. Although the peace dialogue between the Philippine government and MNLF brokered actively by the OIC ended in forging the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement, it did not stop the Mindanao war. Clearly then and now, Philippine colonialism had no intention to end the war, but only to buy time to splinter the MNLF leadership and to mobilize more occupation troops in Mindanao. It was observed this early that the Philippine government had no intention of implementing a comprehensive solution to the Mindanao problem, but only to prolong and preserve Philippine colonialism in the Bangsamoro homeland.  
     In a semblance of showing again seriousness to end the Mindanao war, the Philippine Aquino government in 1986 initiated again peace talks with the MNLF with active OIC involvement, forging the Jeddah Peace Accord. Nonetheless, this did not also put an end to the Mindanao war. Later in 1992, the Philippine Ramos government once again invited the MNLF to peace negotiations that lasted for four years leading to the signing of the September 2, 1996 Peace Agreement. However, the so-called final peace agreement has still to be fully implemented. Compounding and complicating the solution to the Mindanao problem, the Philippine Arroyo government opened separate peaceful negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),  signalling clearly the continued colonial program of dividing further the ranks of the Bangsamoro freedom fighters and deceiving the Bangsamoro people to believe in the seriousness of the Manila government toward Mindanao peace. The MILF initially advocated for an independent Islamic Bangsamoro State,  but later settled for a Bangsamoro Sub-state under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Republic after its original proposal was declared unconstitutional by a 8-7 majority decision of the Philippine Supreme Court. Under the current Philippine Aquino government, the on-going GRP-MILF peace negotiations brokered by Malaysia have still to produce a peace agreement. 

     Thus, the search for the comprehensive settlement of the nagging Mindanao problem has eluded until now the concerned active stakeholders. Despite repeated peace talks and forging of peace agreements, the Filipino-Moro war has not been totally solved for more than forty years now. Clearly, it has not netted the one vital factor necessitating the holding of peace talks and forging of peace agreements centering on "just and lasting peace" in war-torn Mindanao. Because the actively involved stakeholders have failed to agree on the best formula to achieve permanent peace in war-ravaged Mindanao, tragically, the suffering, misery and agony of the people in the conflict-ridden region continue. But, how is this possible? Why is the permanent solution to the Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Mindanao so elusive? What is the strategic interest of the Philippine government in prolonging the Mindanao war? Does killing of more Muslims in Mindanao morally serving the national interest of the Philippine government? Is the grand design of Philippine government in dividing both the MNLF and MILF Bangsamoro freedom fighters with double peace talks and the Bangsamoro people with a farcical autonomy like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) leading only in mainstreaming Philippine colonialism in Mindanao?

     Hence, if the Filipino colonizers in government are only using peace talks and peace agreements to deceive the whole of humanity, but in truth are only hell-bent to perpetuate Philippine colonialism in Mindanao then a comprehensive solution to the Filipino-Moro war is always next to impossible.  -o.s.miharbi 



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