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Speech of Prof. Nur Misuari
Malita, Davao del Sur
November 15, 1999

 

            First of all, allow me to convey to you the noble greeting of peace, Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi Taala wabarakatuhu, peace be on you and the greetings of Almighty God.

            To begin with, allow me to convey my profound and abiding sense of gratitude for the great honor you have vested in me as your ________________. This is a great honor on my part because it represents your confidence  in my leadership. The honorable governor was asking me awhile ago, how many times have you been crowned as ďDatuĒ? I said this is the eight times already. The first one was in 1997 during my official visit to the State of Sabah, Malaysia, I was crowned as Datuk Seri Panglima _________. Datuk Seri Panglima _________implies that it is highest kind of Datus in the State of Sabah, because _________ as we all know is a mountain, a peak  which is the highest in the whole of Asia. And later on, I was also crowned as Supreme Datu of the Supreme Council of Indigenous Leaders of which my brother Datu ________is the Chairman and I am the honorary supreme chairman. And also I was honored to have been crowned as Supreme datu of our brothers in ________________, our brothers in Saranggani province, our brothers in the Subanen group  and so on and so forth.

As I have said this is the 8th    times to have this honor and at the same time I do not _____ as a ______ order from you. Because I have been made to understand that this coronation is a very symbolic one. I will live in the task you have imposed on me. Now I would like to assure you that in conformity of this great task that you have imposed on me, I will make it my ___________ to perform my task Insha Allah in accordance with your expectation. I hope I will not fail you. And among the primary tasks that you have _________ on me is one which is most precious to all us and that is how I can serve as an instrument for the unity or unification of our people here in Mindanao. Here in Mindanao there are so many tribal communities, the _________ tribe, your tribe, (our tribe because Iím now a part of you) is just one of those tribes. There are _________ of these tribes in Mindanao but if I understand my brother Bong Parcasio right, he was trying to narrate to us the history of the people here. And this was confirmed  by my meetings with the senior datus of all these tribes including in my meeting in 1973 with Datus from the Bilaan tribes. I was holding my  camps in Sultan Kudarat province specifically in ______ when I received a series of missions coming from the indigenous people. And in one occasion they told me ____________ that we the people of Mindanao and in particular the indigenous native people, the son of the soil of this land Mindanao and its islands, they said that we came from a common ancestry, that there were two brothers who sired the people of Mindanao now. They were two brothers who decided at one point in time to divide themselves, one of them decided to go up the mountains while the other one decided to stay at the coastal areas. Those who went up the mountains gave birth to that various communities here in Mindanao, the tribal communities based in the mountains and in the forests, the lovely and charming forests and mountains in our fatherland or motherland Mindanao. While the one who stayed at the coastal areas and by the side of the rivers were the ones who sired the Muslims communities, because the Muslims were the ones who were able to welcome visitors from the Middle East and they became Muslims. Although, at one point in time even our brothers and sisters on the mountains already were able to share the same culture and the same civilazation as their  brothers in the coastal areas. But then because of the long war that we had to fight, fight for our survival, 377 years against Spain, more than 40 years of war against America, half a decade of war against Japan, periodic war against the Dutch, the Portuguese, the British and so on and so forth and if I may add nearly three decades of war against the Philippine government. Because of this long war, we have been isolated from each other. And as a result of this isolation, we have been divided against each other sometimes.

But now it is our duty, ngayon sa palagay ito na ang panahon upang magkaroon tayo ng pagkakaisa muli. This is the time now where we should come together, re-unify ourselves because as our dear Governor was saying ďthat unless we are united together for a common purpose, it is not impossible to consolidate and sustain the momentum of peace in our homeland MindanaoĒ. I share the same view. I believe that not only the Muslims and the highlander communities who came from a common ancestry but also our Christian brothers and sisters, all of the people of Mindanao must take it upon themselves the sacred beauty of coming together and unifying themselves for a purpose of defending, protecting and championing the cause of peace.

I was telling our dear governor that for our people to succeed, it is important that we take into consideration the fundamental view that for peace to survive, for peace to gain the momentum in our homeland it is important that the peace be protected by all of us. We can not expect our brothers from the Luzon and the Visayas to protect this peace for us. The primary goal of protecting the peace belongs to us the people of Mindanao because our brothers and sisters in the Luzon and the Visayas have problems of their own. So no matter they want to help us, they can only at times give us _____ service because they have to take care of their own affairs first and foremost.

So therefore, I would like to call on all of you not only those who are present here but kasama na ang lahat ng ating mga kapatid sa ibat-ibang lugar dito sa Mindanao kasama na ang mga isla tulad ng Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan at Camiguin, kailangan ngayon ay magkaisa-isa tayo upang magkaroon tayo ng ating reunification at saka tinatawag na solidarity. Without unity and solidarity, it is impossible to protect the peace in Mindanao.

So much with that with issue of peace. Let me now move on to the other issue which is also connected to peace and I think this the most vital thing for all of us. Ito ang pinakamahalaga sa ating lahat. I want to refer to the question of poverty in Mindanao. Mindanao is known to be one of the richest (potentially) one of the richest parts of the globe. I can vouch to this, dahil sa halos lahat sa daigdig ay napuntahan ko na maliban sa Australia. There is no part of this world that I have not gone through except for Australia. And Australian Ambassador came to see me a couple of weeks ago asking me to visit Australia in the coming days. But I would like to tell you that I have gone to many places in the world. And I can vouch the fact that potentially Mindanao can be considered as one of the richest parts of the world. Ngunit, it is very ironic that it is here in Mindanao wherein you can find people who can barely feed themselves three times a day. And if you also go around makikita ninyo and mga bahay natin, sometimes mas maganda pa ang mga bahay ng mga manok kaysa mga bahay natin. This is an insult to the dignity of man. I think even in the Jewish and the Christian religion and of  course the Islamic religion, it is said that man is the highest creation of God. It is the highest creation of  God because _________ indulged with intelligence unlike all other members of the animal kingdom. Tayo ang pinakamataas na uri, we have the highest  quality in terms of the creation of God by His Mercy and by His Wisdom and by His  Benevolence.

But then everywhere you go, you find that and ang mga standard ng mga tao natin lalong-lalo na dito sa Mindanao. You always find the ugly face of poverty. The ugly face of poverty is everywhere to be seen. Bakit?  Now, the answer is, we are not able to decide for ourselves, every power and every decision is lodged in the hands of Manila, nandoon na sa mga kamay ng mga taga-Manila hindi na sa kamay natin. Lahat ng puersa, all the power, political, economic, cultural, legal and all kind of powers, they are all lodged in the hands of the government in Manila. And our people, our brothers in Luzon who are close to the kitchen, so to speak, close to Malacanang and also our brothers in the Visayas, sila ang nagkaroon ng advantage, because of the mere fact that they are very close to the center, to the nerve center of power. And not only close but they also monopolize that power.

As a matter of  fact, until 1998, last year in May during the last elections, Mindanao was not even represented in the Senate. Out of 24 Senators, kahit isa walang galing sa atin. There was no single representative in the Senate when as a matter of fact that Senate could be considered as one of the most powerful, even the most powerful locus of power. At times it is even more powerful than the Office of the  President himself. But out of 24, 19 came from Luzon and 5 came from the Visayas, walang galing dito sa Mindanao. No single Christian from Mindanao, no sigle Muslim from Mindanao, no single Highlander from Mindanao was able to represent us in the Senate for many years. After the last elections, we were fortunate to elect three but with due respect to the honorable representative, Senator Barbers, Senator Guingona and Senator Pimentel lahat sila galing sa Luzon originally. But we are very happy that they are very sympathetic to us. As a matter of fact, Barbers, Guingona and Pimentel were the ones instrumental in protecting our interest there. But they are only three from Mindanao out of 24. And we are supposed to represent territorially more than 1/3 of the territory of the country,  and about 28% of the population of the Philippines. And also were are contibuting according to some information about 55% to the national ecenomy, specially in terms of raw materials, in terms of export raw materials ay galing dito lahat. But then if you look at the situation in Manila, sa opisina ng presidente with due respect to President Estrada ay wala tayong galing sa Mindanao except DENR Sec. Antonio Cerilles. Out of so many members of the Office of the President, only Cerilles, and Cerilles with due respect to him is neither a Muslim nor a Highlander. He is just like the other Senators also came from Luzon. Yong taga Mindanao donít have  participation in the Office of the President.

And take a look also at the Supreme Court, wala din tayo doon out of 15 members of the Supreme Court. We donít have representation there no single Muslim, no single Highlander, I wonder if there is any Christian Mindanaoan who is sitting in that lofty office of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. In the Court of Appeals, there are only two Muslims, Iím afraid, there is no single Highlander let alone from Mindanao. And in the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as in the Philippine National Police likewise wala tayo doon.

If you continue to analyze and study the situation here, you will agree with the opinion of no less than Congressman Simeon Datumanong of  Maguindanao province when he said, ďthe way we look at the situation even these ARMM  and SPCPD are not being treated as part of the Republic of the Philippines. And therefore in the same manner dahil sa wala tayong representation diyan, we have no active participation not only that there is no democracy in the Philipppines particularly with respect to the Indigenous people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but that we are not being treated as part of the Republic.Ē Because if we are being treated as part of the Republic, how come that they donít allow us to assume our responsibilities as citizens of this state, as citizens of the Republic. According to the estimate of our brothers, there are more than 6 million Indigenous people, Highlander communities, 6.2 million starting with the Subanen, they are about 1.1 million according to their estimate. And there are about 40 major tribal communities here. And according to the Muslims, they said they are about 9 million strong. If you put 9 and 6 million together you will come up something like 15 million. Of course many of us, our identity have been overshadowed by our lifestyle in the cities. Marami sa atin, they are not even proud to be considered as Highlanders. Mayroon sa kanila, if you ask them, they will deny there origin, when we should be proud of that. We must be proud of having come from our own tribal origins because at least we know that we have our own roots to reckon with. Unlike other people, they donít even where they came from but tayo lahat we know where we came from, each one of us. Thatís why we must exult our people, our young people to remember their cultural and tribal identities and always be proud of that. I mention this fact because I believe that you will agree with me that because of our lack of participation in the national affairs not to say in the local affairs. Ngayon according to the NEDA Statistics the biggest number of incedents of poverty in the whole country not only in Mindanao and the islands but also in Visayas and Luzon. The biggest number of people who live below poverty line ay galing sa atin mga indigenous people. Huwag  ninyo kalimutan yan, tayo ang mga indigenous people because of our lack of participation compounded by discrimination and neglect and abondonment on the part of the national government dahil dito we are suffering, we are victimized by all sorts of discrimination and so on and so forth.

Thatís why I was very happy to note that the honorable ex-congressman Benjamin Bautista was telling us about the success in putting up so many institutions of learning here. I remember him recalling about 24 high schools, thatís big number. I think thatís very rare. Itís difficult to get an example like him in other areas in Mindanao. One single congressman being able to produce 24 high schools, magandang record yan. So you must thank the honorable congressman for his achievement. And as your brother and also your leader of this tribe, I would like to personally convey on your behalf our abiding sense of gratitude to ex-congressman Benjamin Bautista. I believe that without the sense of commitment of our society, without that sense of commitment to the humanity especially to the oppressed it could have been impossible for him to have done that. But that is a testimony to the fact that he loves you, he loves us all. And we hope and pray that he will become a young man again, so he can serve us again and again, Mr. Congressman.

Now allow me to seize the opportunity to inform you about what we have done in the ARMM and the SPCPD. First the SPCPD, my brothers and sisters, I would like to tell you first and foremost that the SPCPD can not be expected to produce much in order to address your problem. Why? Because the government has issued an Executive Order literally depriving SPCPD of any power. Itong SPCPD na yan ay walang karapatan, it has no right, it has no responsibilities except to oversee some humanitarian projects coming from the United Nations, coming from certain contries like ________________________. Kaya nga ang kanilang budget  have been limited. In 1997, it was only P100 million, just enough for their adminstrative requirements and also for the salaries of about 200 people. Wala ng iba. They can not undertake any infrastructure activities because that is forbidden because sabi nila this is just an administrative apparatus so only P100 million minus pa ng ___________.

In 1998, they were given P96 million only minus again _________. In 1999, they got something like P81 million and this year, I donít know how much. Everytime they reduced and reduced. And this erratic value of the money has reduced the buying power of that money when in 1997 they got P110 million ____________________. But this time it is hovering to 40 and 41 to a dollar. So the purchasing value of peso has been reduced. However, despite that, we thank the Almighty God and we thank those countries and organizations that have extended humanitarian assistance through the SPCPD. Dahil dito, we were able to spend millions and millions of  dollars for small projects. And these projects have been distributed to all parts of Mindanao not only in the four provinces, not only in the 14 provinces and 10 cities but everywhere in Mindanao. Because I gave instructions to the UNDP group and all those donor countries and organizations that all assistance they share will be shared by all the people here including in particular the indigenous people in the mounatins. So lahat ng mga projects na yan are now being made available to you. So therefore you must take advantage of that.

And there is another project which is known as the SZOPAD fund. The origin of the money came after our visitation to Paris. I was invited by the World Bank and during their pledging session, they pledged 532 million dollars. But that money did not materialized, only the one that was sent by the UNDP then another 10 million now being spent by the SZOPAD was materialized by them. More than 500 million dollars equivalent to more than 20 billion pesos intended  for our development in Mindanao was diverted to other projects including projects between Lanao del Norte and Leyte. They are putting up what they called a some kind of a grid between Lanao del Norte and Leyte so that they can transmit electricity or power through and through. That will require 230 million out of the 520 from the World Bank. I tried to verify about this money but  the UN representative in Manila told me that, that was the decision after they gave it to us. So now we have lost interest in that money.

But we have this P10 million, part of this money has already been spent and I heard that some projects has been extended to you. Our brother, the honorable Vice-mayor Eddie _______ has told me awhile ago that indeed there is that ___________. Now I would like to ask you, I would like to advise you to ask for more but donít concertrate in one place, scatter in different places so that we could assure as many people as possible to partake in this humanitarian assistance.

I would like to inform you, that SZOPAD still has P150 million for the purpose. And I have talked to Pres. Estrada, now the President has assured me, heís ready to activate 10 million dollars that is 400 million pesos. This money came from the OPEC. I got this money together with former Sec. De Ocampo from Austria. We went to visit the Sec. General of OPEC. You know OPEC  the Oil Petroleum Industry in the world , 13 countries most of them are Muslim countries. So when I visited them, it so happen that the Sec. General was a Muslim and he was very very friendly to us, so we got 10 million dollars.

Now in the coming days, once we finish this another 400 million,  I intend to visit them again and to ask for more. I would also like to inform you that the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), after our visitation to West Africa to attend the meeting of the Board of Governors, the Ministers of Finance of more than 50 countries. During their meeting they extended to us U$16 million. This money according to the structure should be used for medical and educational purpose and not to be confined to the four provinces alone, because that was the decision of the Board of Governors. Now there is another donation coming from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is donating huge quantity of  heavy equipments and also medical and educational facilities. _______________ of equipments will be coming very soon from Saudi Arabia, a donation of His Majesty King Fahd bin Abdulaziz and also the crowned Prince in __________.  We got this donation after we ________ on the crowned prince. At one time when I was in Saudi Arabia, when he learned that I was around, he called for me and he decided to ask me what kind of assistance that we need. So I said we only need this kind of assistance, considering that Saudi Arabia has just gone through that costly war against Iraq. They spent more than 300 billion dollars for a war against Iraq alone. So we are expecting and there are much more assistance coming, the Australian Ambassador came to see me a few days ago telling me that they are going to extend additional funding. So the American also,  the political Secretary came with another person and telling me that they are going to add another 4,000 benefeciaries to the ELAP projects. Belgium, Norway and so many other countries are coming to our help. But this help, Iím afraid will not knock at your door. Donít forget this. They will not come to you, you will come to them. You must understand, you must know where they are, where these people are holding their offices. As to SPCPD, Exec. Dir. Uttosalem Cutan holds office in Cotabato City and also in General Santos City. As to SZOPAD funds, you go to Mr. Edward Lim, he holds office in Zamboanga City. I myself, for your information, although I was the one who put them there in that office, I have to beg. So I am just as far or as close to this as you are. And ________ you are closer because while I have been asking for so many times  for some of these assistance in my area, until now hindi pa ako nabigyan. But I donít mind.

Now I would to ask you to go, huwag kayong mahiya, because that money was given by these donor countries and other organizations in the world for you. Itís not for Mr. Lim, itís not for Mr. Uttosalem, itís not for those who are in that offices but it is for all of you, kasama na ang mga kapatid natin na mga indigenous people coming from all places who are present here, coming from Bukidnon, coming from Saranggani, South Cotabato, from Davao Norte and Davao Oriental, from Agusan, Surigao and perhaps from as far as Zamboanga peninsula and Palawan.

I would like to ask you to convey to our brothers and sisters, please try to take advantage of this bounty made available by the donor countries and of course from that. So yon lang ang masasabi ko sa inyo. Apart from that, allow me also to tell you something about the ARMM. The ARMM is composed of 4 provinces only. The original intention was to make it 13 but somehow along the line they manage to maneuver, they manage to outmaneuver us, so ang nakuha natin ay only 4 provinces. Now this 4 provinces composed of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, ito na ang pinamamaliit na probinsiya along with Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

Now here, however, we have a very strong charter, we have an Organic Act. It is almost a state within a state. Therefore, itong mga otoridad, all the powers vested in the ARMM could be considered as a bonus to the local government tulad ng sinabi ng ating kapatid na si Atty. Bong Parcasio, inyong anak, anak ng Malita, sinabi niya ang mga pangyayari doon sa ARMM tulad ng budget, tulad ng mga otoridad, the law making authority and so on and so forth. These are all in addition to the local government unit. I remember him saying ďwala naman yong mga powers vested in the local code to all local government officials ay nadiminish. There was no diminution of power or authority to the local government in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, wala. Itong ARMM is an addition and a very big addition. To show to you that it is a big addition, because of the ARMM, we are able to get annually first in 1997, P3.1 billion, addition yon sa budget ng ating mga brothers. You can ask all the governors and the mayors and the barangays, they will tell you that ang IRA nila, not one cent naputulan namin, nothing. All of this, addition ito. In 1997, P3.1 billion, sahod ng 19,000 employee including more than 15,000 teachers. So this is a big source of employment

 

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Copyright 2001 by MNLF, Cotabato City