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EDITORIAL
30 January 2015

BANGSAMORO HISTORICAL NOTES

“MINDANAO PEACE IS BANGSAMORO FREEDOM,
 NOT INJUSTICE OF PHILIPPINE COLONIALISM.”
 –REVEREND ABSALOM CERVEZA

  by Ombra S. Malik, Editorial Consultant

The similitude in history of MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari with the known legendary revolutionary leaders, like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Fidel Castro of Cuba, is surely the substantial and moral element of freedom struggle. While in detention under the oppressive military forces of colonial and neo-colonial government, they can dare express the sentiments of the colonized. Unfazed and principled revolutionaries to the core, not political collaborators who can easily abandon freedom struggle faced with torture and the “spoils of power” offered by colonizers.  

“…The number one industry in this whole country is corruption.”

“War is terrible. It’s a scourge to humanity. It’s like fire, it eats up everything. We fought the Spaniards for 377 years, then the British and the Dutch, the Americans and the Japanese, and then the Filipinos. But who brought the war to Mindanao? Not us.”

“We are the winners. We are going to precipitate the disintegration of this country if our problem is not solved…without justice, without sincerity on the part of the government, there can never be an end to the war in Mindanao.”

From the time when the folk hero Bangsamoro freedom fighters Datu Abdulmajid Panoniongan and Datu Tawantawan of Lanao and Maas Kamlon of Sulu revolted against Philippine colonialism under President Elpidio Quirino up to the crucial period of the MNLF-launched freedom struggle under President/Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, the Mindanao war has today lasted for about half century. The Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao has even outlasted the more than forty years American-Moro war in history.

The Mindanao conflict has continued to this day because the Filipino colonialist leaders of Luzon have become steadfast patronizing and embracing the gruesome injustice inflicted upon the Tri-People of Mindanao (Lumad, Muslim and Christian). They  

have even taken pride in glamorizing the injustice inflicted on their colonized victims in the Philippine Constitution. Apparently, the Constitution has served a guide for the pork barrel-conscious lawmakers in both Houses of Philippine Congress to glorify injustice and to perpetuate Philippine colonialism in Mindanao. But the fact cannot be hidden that the political deception is just anchored on the pretext of subscribing to constitutional mandate and “rule of law” in order to justify injustice and to wage unjust war against the colonized victims of Mindanao.

Indeed, the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers have to defend the immoral majesty of the 1935 Commonwealth government enacted National Assembly Legislative Act No. 4197 otherwise known as the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act. This is the draconian law viewed by the colonized populace that clearly defined the land-grabbing of the ancestral domain of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao – the Muslim and Animist Lumad natives – by the totally Christian Filipino lawmakers. The colonial scheme later led to the illegal and controversial annexation of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan (MINSUPALA) into America-created “Philippine Republic” on July 4, 1946. And this land-grabbing factor precipitated the present bloody Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao.


With the continuing Mindanao war that already registered more than 200,000 human deaths, including children, women and the aged, and countless material losses, the Philippine government has only turned blind to the catastrophic consequences. Despite the more than 30-long years of peace talks and forging of three peace agreements with the MNLF, the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers are still obsessed in embracing passionately the gross injustice against the colonized Bangsamoro people of war-ravaged Mindanao. The Filipino politicians, congressional lawmakers and academicians have only become proud defending and protecting the “sovereignty and integrity” of the Philippines based on land-grabbing and injustice.

“INJUSTICE IS ROOT OF CONFLICT IN MINDANAO,”
SAID CARDINAL ORLANDO QUEVEDO

It is now observed that the Catholic Church has taken active role in helping to put closure to the nagging Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao. While today the Filipino political leaders, Congress lawmakers and so-called “nationalists” and “constitutionalists” in the academe, particularly UPD and ADMU, still relish justifying and taking pride on the injustice done against the Bangsamoro people, the Philippine Catholic Church has shown otherwise.

The Catholic clergymen now have posited for the successful end to the elusive Mindanao peace that has been thrice betrayed by the Philippine government. They have now started to question the “national strategy” of the government in addressing the root cause of the Mindanao war. Simply analyzed, the Catholic Church has now highlighted

injustice as the root cause of the Filipino-Moro conflict in Mindanao.

“Injustice is root of conflict in Mindanao,” has been repeatedly said since 2005 by Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato. He has also stressed this categorical insight during the international gathering of the Knights of Columbus in Orlando, Florida, on August, 2014.

 The event was reported by CBCP news (cbcpnews@cbcpworld.net) on January 10, 2015. The CBCP news further reported:

 “A peace agreement between the two parties may be imminent but such a deal alone is not a guarantee for achieving stability in the region.”

“He reiterated that poverty and injustice which include human rights violations, corruption and land conflict are the root causes of conflict in Mindanao that must be addressed to attain peace.”

“The root cause of the conflict is injustice, and after studying Moro history I began to believe they have lost their own sovereignty, their own identity as a distinct group and because of that the government has neglected them in terms of development, Quevedo said.”

During the wake of the Philippine visit by Pope Francis, MindaNews Editor Carolyn O. Arguillas filed the January 16, 2015 report highlighted by the caption, “Pope: bringing peace to Mindanao will result in just solutions.” She further reported:

 “In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities, the Pope said.”

 “Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato, in a paper delivered at the 27th Grand Assembly of the Bishops-Business Conference in Taguig, Metro Manila, on July 8, 2003, shortly after the Buliok war, cited injustice as the root of the conflict with the Moro. Injustice to the Moro identity, injustice to the Moro political sovereignty, and injustice to Moro integral development.”

 “Quevedo was then President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Pope named him as Mindanao’s first Cardinal in January last year.”

“With the loss of political sovereignty came the loss of great chunks of Moro ancestral lands. Much of the loss resulted from a long series of legal enactments by the Philippine Commission, the Commonwealth government, and the post-independent government. Moro writers call this ‘legalized land-grabbing’, Quevedo wrote.”

 “The loss of land was compounded by government neglect of the Moro right to integral development during the commonwealth and post-independent governments. In all dimensions of human development, political, economic, educational, and cultural, the Moro population continues to lag far behind its Christian Filipino counterparts. The latest national census bears this out in terms of educational improvement, political participation and economic development. This is truly a tragic plight, Quevedo said.”

Thus, towards the “tragic plight” of the colonized Bangsamoro people on the hands of the Filipino colonizers, the counsel of Pope Francis to the Philippine government to see the light of justice to end injustice and oppression is truly an eye-opener. He commented:

“It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequities.”

HOW DOES PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT ADDRESS THE MINDANAO CONFLICT?

In analyzing the thesis of Cardinal Quevedo why the Manila government could not positively solve the Filipino-Moro conflict in Mindanao, he faulted the “national strategy” of the government as off-tangent and without substance.

The updated “national strategy” of the Philippine government in 2003 was called “The Strategy of Holistic Approach in order to “deter and resolve insurgency.” The “national strategy” identifies 4 main roots of insurgency, namely: Poverty, which includes low productivity, criminality, environmental degradation; Ignorance, which includes poor resource base and low quality education; Disease, which includes malnutrition, poor delivery of health services; and Injustice, which includes human rights violations, graft and corruption, land conflicts. 

However, Cardinal Quevedo expressed contrary opinion to the roots of “insurgency” cited by the “national strategy” because his reading and analysis of the “insurgency” in the south is substantially different. He cited the place of history and culture as the main difference. He simply stressed “injustice” as the root cause of insurgency in Mindanao. He pointed out that injustice has several sub-roots that are the major factors at the heart of the contemporary Moro movement for freedom, referring to the movement’s historical, cultural, social economic, political and religious dimensions

He expressed the fact that, “nowhere in the national strategy as I have read it and as government spokesmen have explained it to me do I see these fundamental dimensions of the Moro struggle.”

 Simply put, from Bangsamoro point of view, the “national strategy” of the Philippine government in addressing the Filipino-Moro conflict is based on a mirage of fabricated lies and denial of the freedom struggle of the Bangsamoro people.

 The Filipino colonizers just can’t accept or refuse to accept the reality that the Moros can never be “Filipinos” because they were never identified as the original children of Spanish soldiers and friars, and colonial slaves of Spain. They can never be classified as Christianized Indios, who adopted to be called Filipinos in 1872, serving as spies and foot-soldiers of the Spanish invaders to Mindanao. This is the “injustice to Moro identity” that Cardinal Quevedo pointed out. The “national strategy” is only to continue the stark injustice of the colonizers on the colonized in order to betray Mindanao peace and perpetuate Philippine colonialism at the price of continuing the war.

 Thus, it is now observed that the continued injustice of preserving Philippine colonialism by means of “war of genocide” in Mindanao has only made the oppressive Filipino military officials instant millionaires. On one hand, the corrupt civilian Filipino government leaders have only become extra richer by tolerating and encouraging all the injustice done against the colonized victims of Mindanao. 

THE CONTINUING INJUSTICE FROM ARMM TO BBL

Despite the decades-long marathon of peace talks and three peace agreements signed with the MNLF, the Philippine government through congressional machination has had only come out with a “farcical autonomous government.” The so-called Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

 It is now noted by the Bangsamoro people and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that the Philippine government has only shown time and again not to respect binding international agreements. Again, the present group of Filipino colonizers in Malacanang Palace headed by President Benigno S. Aquino III has deceptively devised another version of autonomy in collaboration with Malaysia and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This is the by-product of the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) simply called “Bangsamoro” that is to replace the “bogus ARMM” or the “failed experiment” of Philippine colonialism under President Corazon C. Aquino and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

 However, both the ARMM and the contemplated Bangsamoro autonomous government have been rejected by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Nonetheless, the Aquino government is today propagandizing that the establishment of “Bangsamoro” autonomy is the solution to the Filipino-Moro conflict deeply rooted in injustice and colonialism.

On this travesty of injustice and disrespect for peace agreements, the MNLF Legal Counsel and Mindanao Spokesman, Atty. V. Emmanuel Fontanilla issued a manifesto on August 2014 that stated:

 “The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conveys its regret over the action of Philippine government in undermining the agreements entered by the Philippine government with the MNLF. This act of the Philippines gives credence to the MNLF assertion of its peaceful struggle for independence.”

“The agreements (1976 and 1996) are international agreements binding among the parties and so mandated by the Philippine Constitution (Incorporation clause). It is ushered by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Yet, the reckless disregard of such agreements by the Philippine government shows its attitude towards its international agreement.”

 “It is not surprising that the same provisions of the agreement are the subject of an agreement with the MNLF. This clearly proves the duplicity of the Philippine government.”

“The above observation actually proves right the quest of the MNLF to continue its struggle for independence.”

On this note, the MNLF Peace Panel Spokesman, Reverend Absalom Cerveza, a God-fearing man of peace similar to Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, has sounded off in the social network media, including Twitter and Facebook, his fundamental judgment on the Mindanao conflict. He proclaimed: “Mindanao Peace is Bangsamoro Freedom, not Injustice of Philippine Colonialism.”

 Truth to tell, Reverend Cerveza has only sentimentalized the monumental aspiration of the Tri-People of Mindanao that only “Bangsamoro freedom is the golden key to Mindanao peace.”

The passion and love for freedom of the Filipino-colonized Bangsamoro people was also morally portrayed by Madam Mucha-Shim Quiling-Arquiza, the ethnic and religious minority representative, during the United Nations Human Rights Council Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva on 29-30 November 2011. Her soul-searching statements partly included:

“…I urge the Spanish government and the United States government to immediately undertake necessary and urgent geo-political administrative complemented with international legal measures, specifically to underwrite the consequences of the Treaty of Paris it signed in August 21, 1898 that unilaterally and illegally ceded the Bangsamoro homeland to the Philippine Republic and unjustly trampling on the sovereignty of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao and undermined traditional governance in indigenous Moro and Lumad principalities in the rest of Mindanao. A decisive step towards this will once and for all DECOLONIZE our minds and imagination. And wake us up from the nightmare – we, national minorities, perennial nationalists dreaming of its own nation-state and self-determination at a time when, as late Arab leader Muammar al-Qhadaffi once said: a time no longer for nations, but for peoples.”

On this development, can the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers of Luzon see the light that injustice and genocide war can never bring prosperity and good governance to the Philippines?

 Hence, when will the Filipino colonizers learn the moral lesson in history taught by the great peacemaker Dr. Martin Luther King that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 On the side of the Bangsamoro people and freedom fighters, who have engaged in liberation struggle for centuries now against the Spanish, American, Japanese and Filipino invaders, they can only be inspired to pursue their sacred goal by the heart-warming words of one known “daughter of the East,” Bennazir Bhutto, who said:

“Time, justice, and the forces of history are on our side.”

 In conclusion, to repeat what Reverend Absalom Cerveza expressed not too long ago related to the Mindanao conflict in calling the attention of both Filipino and Bangsamoro communities, including the whole of humanity, to consider peace, not war. As MNLF Peace Panel Spokesman, he appealed to the consciousness of the Filipino leaders and dared to boldly inquire:

 “When will Filipino Colonialist Land-grabbers stop the Crime against Humanity in Mindanao for Peace?” –osm, mnlfnet.com

 

 

 

   

   

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