This piece was originally posted by the author as a response to the ” STATEMENT: Moro Youth Leaders push for Peace” article.
Barangay RP reposted it here now as a major story. Please read.
A DEEPER LOOK AT THE BANGSAMORO PROBLEM AND THE ARMED CONFLICT IN MINDANAO AND ITS ISLANDS:
Written by: DATUAN S. PANOLIMBA of
North Cotabato, Philippines
When the Spaniards set their foot in Manila in 1570, Islam had taken its roots in the bay area. In the southern portion of the archipelago, there were already established sultanates, attesting to the existence of advanced political system the Moros had had. It was during the Battle of Manila that year that the word “Moro” was first used by the Spaniards, reminded of their experience with the Moors in Morocco who fought them for territory and dominance in the Iberian peninsula.
Military campaigns were launched to subjugate the Moro Muslims in 1578. These expeditions came in six stages starting from the Spanish conquest of Borneo in 1578, ending in the attempts to consolidate Hispanic hold in some parts of Mindanao to prevent the other foreign powers at that time (e.g. the British and the Dutch) from penetrating the Muslim sultanates. Each of these aggressions was fiercely resisted by the Moro people. Despite some minor gains towards the end of the Spanish era, the Castelllans, who gained some advantage with the introduction of fast steamboats and the weakening of the Sultanates due to internecine wars on succession, never subjugated the Moros.
But the wounds remained and even grew deeper. The Moro wars as well as the cultural conditions imposed on the Indio’s, e.g. the Moro-Moro, zarzuela and the like, separated the Christianized Filipinos from the Muslims in the South of the Philippines. Stereotypes portraying the latter as “uncivilized and barbaric” persisted giving notion that the Muslims were being treated as second-class citizens.
American colonialism of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan began with the Bates Treaty that was on August 20, 1899. The document was just a tactical ploy designed by the American occupational forces to thwart any alliance between the defenders of the young Philippine Republic and the Sultanates. When the Americans succeeded in crushing the revolutionary government in Luzon, they mounted military expeditions to pacify and subjugate the Moro people. These took several forms foremost of which was the no-nonsense unleashing of full military might capped by the opening of settelemnts for the Filipinos from Luzon and the Visayas here in Mindanao and its islands.
Through the pensionados-scions of Moro families who were sent to institutions of higher learning in Manila and the U.S. – the Americans were able to erect some pillars of their colonial government. In August 1916, the Jone Law (Public Act No. 240 of the Second Session of the 64th United States Congress) was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. This was followed by the abolition of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu. The administration of the Moro lands came largely under the Bureau of Non-Christian tribes under the Department of the Interior.
American and Christian Filipino officials were in general agreement on the overall policy on the Moros; their integration into the mainsteam of Filipino society. But this policy was seriously obstructed by at least three circumstances: 1) The atmosphere of mutual suspicion between American and Filipino officials; 2) Continued Moro resistance and struggle against the domination of the imperial government based in Manila; and 3) The priority given to national economic development and security consideration in the Bangamoro Homeland.
Throughout American Regime, the Filipino leaders (Quezon, Osmena, Laurel, Recto, etc) did not manifest interest of the Moros at heart, being motivated to ensure control and demonstrate their capacity to government and hasten the granting of (political) independence. Pockets of small uprisings dotted and shock American presence in Mindanao. Notable among these were: the Maranao revolt in Tugaya, Lanao Sur in 1923; the uprising led by Datu Santiago in Parang, Cotabato in 1923-1924; the one by Datu Tahil in 1927 against land taxation and cedula, among others, and the most notable of all, the one led by Hadji Kamlon of Sulu Province in the 1950’s.
The Americans never grasped what the Moro problem really was. They saw it as underdevelopment of “Non-Christian Tribes” – and the solution was education, economic development and judicious application of force whenever the Moros resisted. Worse, to some, the Moros were considered savages needing to be civilized and the homeland of the Moros as territory promising vast economic resources for an independent Philippines; hence, the term “Land of Promise”. Migration was greatly accelerated in 1936, further boosted with the creation of such bodies as LASADECO, NARRA, and EDCOR. This stage set the process of “denationalization” and “minoratization” of the Moros.
The Japanese occupation force little understood the actual situation of the Moros. They tried to use the “Brother Asians” appeal but the best that they could achieve was the guarded, enthusiastic obedience of some Moros living in occupied towns. The majority of the Moros, however, supported the anti-Japanese war effort, and not a few were pleased at the opportunity to legitimate by show their martial bravery. In many instances, the Moros and the Filipinos fought side by side to repulse the Japanese imperial army.
Under the contemporary period, political analysts and pundits are wont to point out to three underlying causes to the Moro problem and the Mindanao conflict: landlessness, socio-cultural differences, and power struggle. In the eyes of progressive minds, they are four: political autonomy or self – determination, leadership, oppression and exploitation, and mass liberation. The underlying circumstance is that the Bangsamoro Muslims are fighting against “forcible denationalization”, if not actual physical extermination.
Three events in the late 1960s and early 1970s precipitated Mindanao Crisis: The Corregidor incident (Jabidah Massacre) of March 1968 in Bataan Province; the Manili massacre, Carmen, North Cotabato in June 1971, the November 1971 elections, and President Marcos imposition of Martial Law in September 1972. The first event led to the formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). To that however, five Muslim scholars from Mindanao and Sulu were known to have planted the seeds of “JIHAD” on the Bangsamoro ancestral, noble, and belove homeland. One of these scholars was Late Ustadz Salamat Hashim, first Chairman, Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The auspicious birth of the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) espoused by the “Grand Old man of Cotabato” Governor Datu Udtog Matalam.
There was a shirt of political power from the traditional MUslim ruling class to the newly – elected Christian leaders as a result of November 1971 elections. Almost simultaneously, a Christian vigilante group called “ILAGA” (acronym fo ILONGO LAND GRABBING ASSOCIATION) came into being. The declaration of Martial Law put an exclamation point to the neo-colonial attempts at finally subjugating the Moros.It only expose the then unified MNLF, and soon it became the rallying force of the Moros in their quest for self – determination.
Finding it difficult to supppress the MNLF, which had gained an Observer Status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Philippine government gave way to the signing of the Tripoli Agreement in December 1976. Apart from this, President Marcos of the Philippines unilaterally established autonomous regions in Regions IX and XII and created several offices to dramatize its policy of measured benevolence towards the Moros. These offices included the Offices of the Regional Commissioners for Regions IX and XII, Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), Philippine Amanah Bank, Philippine Pilgrimage Authority , Office of Islamic Affairs in the Department of Foreign affairs, Agency for the Development and Welfare of Muslims in the Philippines, Commissioner for Islamic Affair (later Ministry of Muslim Affairs, OMACC, and now Office of Muslim Affairs), among others. This culminated by the enactment of R.A. 6734 that established the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1990.
The GRP-MNLF Tripoli Agreement of 1976 did not end or solve the Bangsamoro problem and the Mindanao conflict neither did the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement signed on September 2, 1996. While the MNLF opted to join the government and had a hand in the running of the ARMM and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), the Bangsamoro problem and Mindanao conflict remained. The continued exploitative and oppressive policies of the Philippine government, punctuated by unabated militarization, open human rights violations and myopic initiatives that serve more as palliatives and cosmetical approaches in containing, or denying the existence of the problem, further the strengthened the resolved of the Moros in the struggle for Right to Self – Determination (RSD).
The MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (MILF), borne by the disenchantment, disenfranchisement and the dejection of the Moro masses from the Philippine government’s refusal to recognize the inherent right of the Bangsamoro Muslims to regain their lost freedom and independence and reclaim their homeland that were subjected to laws promulgated without due representation from and consultations with the Bangsamoros.
From July 17, 1997, the MILF entered into a General Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities with the GRP, the latter, through its Armed Forces continued to violate the agreement and the subsequent documents forced between the GRP and MILF Peace Panels to ensure continuously confidence building and fruitful negotiations. The GRP unveiled its “All – OUt War Policy” to bring down the Moro Mujahideens to their knees. Just like what the Americans did to the Bates Treaty, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ignored the joint statements acknowledging certain MILF major and satellite camps – only for the duration of the peace process-on the pretext that these turned into bases from which “terroristic activities” of MILF were launched. They launched offensives notwithstanding the existence of civilians and holy structures in the communities within MILF camps.
The All-Out War policy bodes well with real intent of pursuing genocide or ethnic cleansing. This leaves no alternative for the Moro Muslims but carve their separate state. The unitary system with sprinkling of autonomy in areas dominated by Moros and tribal peoples did not sit well with the Moro people’s desire for real freedom to control their religion, political, cultural, educational, and economic affairs.
The experience of the Bangsamoro Muslims had its parallel in Algeria and other countries. Emotionally, the former of 2000 are now where the Algerians were in 1955. Mere socio – economic development progress side-by-side with military action by France did not succeed in making the Algerians of the time accept the offer of autonomy. Their suffering galvanized their resistance, until as then French President Charles de Gaulle belatedly realized, independence was the only acceptable solution to the Algerian problem. This is the reality that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) must face, Insha ALLAH Subhanaho Wataalah.
As the MILF, however, firmly believes that the Bangsamoro problem and the Mindanao conflict can be solved through peaceful means, it has embarked on a negotiation to pave the way to a peaceful and democratic return of the Bangamoro homeland to the Moro people. This is in accordance with Qur’anic provisions contained in Chapter VIII, verse nos. 60-62. It is for this reason that the MILF entered into the AGCC and subsequently submitted a 9-point agenda for the peace talks with the GRP. These nine talking points have been clustered into six, namely: 1) Ancestral Domain and Agrarian Related Issues, 2) Destruction of Properties and War Victims, 3) Human Rights Issues, 4) Social and Cultural Discrimination, Corruption of the Mind and Moral Fiber, 5) Economic Inequities and Widespread Poverty, and 6) Exploitation of Natural Resources. As the negotiation went on, these six talking points were deduced again to only three, namely: 1) Security Aspect, 2) Relief, Rehabilation and Development Aspect, and 3) Ancestral Domain Aspect.
While the GRP Panel preferred to delve on positive and more forward looking aspects, the MILF maintains that the true nature, scope, magnitude, and depth of the Bangsamoro problem and the Mindanao conflict must be emphasized for the well – being and future of the Moro people. No amount of stonewalling or window – dressing will ever justify any effort to arrive at another sets of palliatives and /or short – sighted remedies “in the name of peace process” but to the detriment of the downtrodden, exploited, colonized and oppressed Bangsamoro.
The objective of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is to regain the illegally and immorally usurped freedom and self – determination of the Bangsamoro people through peaceful means. The annexation of the Bangsamoro Homeland through the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898 constitutes an illegal and immoral act, which is a violation of human rights. The position of the MILF is very clear. There is no viable and lasting solution to the centuries-old conflict in Mindanao between the Bangsamoro people and their prosecutor except to give way to the aspirations of the native inhabitants of Mindanao and its islands – the Bangsamoro people and the Highlanders, and this is no other than the resoration of their usurped legitimate rights to freedom and self – determination.
THE BANGSAMORO MUSLIMS AND THEIR HOMELAND:
The ancestral homeland of the Bangsamoro is not just located in Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan. In a map found on London Library and Museum, Muslim areas in the Philippines at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines were found throughout the archipelago. There were seven kingdoms and principalities, namely: a) the Sultanate of Maguindanao, b) Sultanate of Sulu, c)Muslim principality of Palawan, d) Muslim principality of Panay, e) Muslim principality Mindoro, f) the Muslim principality of Manilad (Manila), and g) the Muslim principality of Iloco.
Due to the partial success of the Spanish conquistadors’ attempt to proselytize the Indio’s, the Moros were decimated in Luzon and the Visayas. At the end of the Spanish regime, the Moros were found principally in the southern portion of the Philippines: on the island of Mindanao, in the Sulu archipelago, and on the island of Palawan, south of Puerto Princesa City. The dominant Islamized tribes consist of 13 major ethno – linguistic groups : the Maguindanaos (Cotabato and parts of Zamboanga del Sur), Maranaws (Lanao, and parts of the Misamis, Bukidnon and also in Caraga region), Tausogs (Sulu), Yakans (Basilan), Iranons (North of Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces and south of Lanao del Sur, Jama Mapun (Tawi-Tawi and Cagayan de Sulu), Palawani (Southern Palawan), Kalibugan (Zamboanga del Sur) Kalagan (Davao areas), Samal (Sulu), Sangil (Saranggani Island group), Molbog (Balabac Island Southern Palawan), and Badjao (South of Sulu) – (per Yambut et. al., 1975:16). Each of these groups occupies a more or less distict territory, though in some instance the smaller groups have their living spaces penetrated by families belonging to the larger groups.
Then there are highlanders or lumads, the tribal ethnic groups like the T’durays (Tirurays), Manobos, B’laans, Bagobos, Subanons, T’bolis, Bukidnons, and other indigenous cultural communities, who opted not to embrace Islam, but form part of the Bangsamoro nation. They have the same aspiration as the Muslims to reclaim their ancestral domain and be free of exploitation and oppression.
Notwithstanding the unifying bond of Islam and custom and traditions (in the case of the highlanders or lumads), the Moros differ in certain respects: 1) subsistence patterns, 2) historical development and in the intensity of their contracts with the rest of the archipelago and the world beyond, and 3) in the details of their social organization, degree of their Islamic acculturation, and in their dress, custom, arts and many other aspects of culture.
These accidental differences, including patterns of psychosocial behavior, were exploited by the regime of President Marcos to divide the Moros in its attempt to weakened the then unified MNLF. What it could not win in war, it somewhat accomplished, albeit with little success in politics of compromises, concessions, and deception. This strategy also somewhat worked in magnifying the mis – perception that the Moros by themselves could not govern, rendering the various mechanisms devised by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) especially the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), the Bogus Autonomous Regions under P.D. 1618, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as “mean to fail.”
The Bangsamoro homeland consists of the picturesque, crab-like island of Mindanao. The minnows are, the island of the Sulu archipelago (or the Basilan, Sulu, Tawitawi). Moroland is said to be a territory of 36,540 square miles. By way of comparison, it is larger in territory than either portugal or Austria. And the Bangsamoro Population outnumbers that of Albania, Costa Rica, and even of oil-rich desert country of Libya.
In terms of the history of the Bangsamoro, three regions have loomed more important than others: the Sulu archipelago, the Lake Lanao Region, and the Pulangi (River) Valley, that is Cotabato Empire of old.
Sulu is the gateway that connects to Borneo and Malay Peninsula, which explains the very close ties between the people of these areas. In 1994, seeing the tremendous potentials of reviving the thriving trade and commerce that made the region prosperous some 500 years ago, former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos, under his much-maligned Philippine 2000 vision, orchestrated the establishment of the BIMP-EAGA (Brunie-Malaysian-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area). The rapid gains of said multilateral borderless economic arrangement were vaporized when the currency crisis struck in the mid – 1997. But then the Bangsamoro people remained in abject socio – economic condition, despite the promised bonanza especially after the signing of the Final Peace agreement between the GRP and tHe MNLF on September 2, 1996.
Lake Lanao, all of its 135 – square-mile size, supplies the electric power generated through hydro plant to larger portion of the island of Mindanao. Paradoxically, a big part of the Province of Lanao del Sur, where it is located is not yet energized up to this writing. The more properous Lanao del Norte, now dominated by Christians, with some big industries located therein, especially in Iligan City, is one enjoying the benefits of cheap electricity, together with those in Northern Mindanao, Caraga region and the Zamboanga Peninsula, all now populated mostly by Christian settlers from the Luzon and Visayas.
The Rio Grande de Mindanao (Spanish name for Pulangi, which also means “river”) is like Mount Fuji to the Japanese or the Nile river to the Egyptians. It is not just a channel for transportation/navigation, source of irrigation, trade and commercial route, and agro – industrial key production area. More than other, it is a symbol, a source of pride amongst the Maguindanaons and the other Moros in the area. The regime of former President Marcos of the Philippines came up with the cotabato – Agusan river Basin Development Project (CARBDP) aimed at transforming the valley into a modern complex of agricultural production, marketing, and corporate growth. The Marcos era ended without seeing the fruits of such a grandiose scheme.
Three dispensations in succession concocted as set or a package of programs to gain attempt at developing the valley, including the 286,000 hectare-plus Liguasan (Ligawasan) Marsh. There is the Maridagao-Malitubog Irrigation Development Project, a multi – billion peso project, and the aborted Liguasan Marsh Development Project, whose feasibility study was spearheaded by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) at a cost of P6 million but was flatly rejected by the native inhabitants of the Marsh area. The World Bank is set to bankroll a bigger project to encompass MalMar, Liguasan, and the Pulangi. Yet, the Bangsamoro natives have never participated in the drawing of the plans, never been consulted, or even are going to be dispalced once these projects are in place.
THE BANGSAMORO ANCESTRAL DOMAIN AND OTHER RELATED ISSUES:
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) maintains that the issue on ancestral domain involves: a) intrusion into the domain (by vested interest, settlers, and multinationals), b) declaration of ancestral domain as public and disposal lands, and c) wanton destruction and irreverence towards ancestral domain.
Throughout contemporary history, the Bangsamoro were subjected to various forms of oppression, subjugation, and genocidal campaigns. The situation of the Bangsamoro people became worst when colonies and settlements projects in Mindanao and Sulu were established to decongest Luzon and Visayas. It was also a palliative to appease for Huk members. The systematic deprivation of the Bangamoro people of their ancestral domain is anchored in the Regalian Doctrine, which has been enshrined in the Philippine Constitution of 1935, 1973 and 1987 with the state declares itself the sole owner of what is called state dome in and reserves the right to classify it for purposes of proper disposition to its citizens. To this effect, the Philippine government enacted series of laws, detriment to the occupancy, use and rights of the Bangsamoro people of their homeland.
On November 6, 1902, the Philippine Commission passed Land Registration Act No. 496 which requires the registration of lands occupied by private persons or corporations, and the application for registration of title, says Sec. 21, it shall in writing, signed and sworn to by the applicant. This provision of law is totally discriminatory. First, the registration was not only totally alien to the Moro communities, most of them would have been unable to comply, illiterate that they were. Second, it failed to take cognizance that the Maguindanao and Sulu Sultanates were independent Muslim States, possession had been, and was a complete and absolute title to their land in accordance with Islamic Law.
To ensure unchallenge exercise of the state authority to dispose of state domain or public lands, the Philippine Commission enacted an Act No. 718 entitled “An Act makig void land grants from Moro Sultnas or Datus or from Chiefs of Non – Christian Tribes when made without governmental authority or consent. Section 82 of Public Land Act No. 926 which was amended by Act No.2874 by the Senate and House of Representatives on 29 November 1919 in accordance with the Jones Law and finally incorporated in Commonwealth Act 141 under Section 84, enacted and approved on November 7, 1936, continues to carry the almost exact wordings of said law, reiterating further the legitimacy of the transfer of sovereign authority from Spain to the United Staets of America, and the illegality of the Moros claim.
On October 7, 1903, the Philippine Commission passed Public Land Act No. 926 which allowed individuals to acquire homestead not exceeding 16 hectares each corporation, 1,204 hectares each of, unoccupied, unreserved, unappropriated agricultural public lands as stated by Section 1. Nothing was said about the unique custom of the Moro Communities.
Public Land Act No. 926, amended through Act No. 2874 by the Senate and House of Representatives on 29 November 1919 in accordance with Jones Law, provided that 16hectares allowed earlier to individuals was increased to 24 hectares, but the Non – Christian , including the Moros, was allowed an area which shall exceed ten (10) hectares with the very stringent conditions, that is, it shall be an essential condition that the applicant apply for permit to cultivate the land and if the applicant has not begun to cultivate and improve the land six months from and after the date on which the permit was granted, the permit shall ipso facto be concelled and land.
Commonwealth Act No. 141, amended on November 7 1936, withdrew the privilege earlier granted to the settlers of owning more than one homestead at 24 hectares each and reverted to one not exceeding 16 hectares. But the non – Christians (including the Moros) who were earlier allowed a maximum of ten (10) hectares were now permitted only four (4) hectares.
For the administration of agricultural colonies, Commonwealth Act No. 141 created the National Land Settlement Administration. This took charge of the settlement projects in Koronadal, Cotabato, and in Malig, Isabel, Cotabato. With the subsequent reorganization of the government in 1950, the office was merged with the Rice and Corn Production Administration, forming a new identity known as the Land Settlement and Development Corporation (LASADECO). Later, Republic Act No. 1160 abolished LASADECO and created the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA). With the efforts of the NARRA, it had resetled 20, 500 at the cost of p44.5 million in 1963. The government also created the Economic Development Corporation (EDCOR), which issued homestead land to, alleged former HUKS.
THe defunct Commission on National Integration (CNI), created under R.A. 1888, as amended by R.A. 3852 on 4 May 1964 did not succeed in its objectives, but merely perpetuated and made more start the discriminatory oppression and misleading thrust of the Philippine government by implementing more settlement projects, allowing more concession ot the political elite.
On March 11, 1974, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, issued P.D. No. 410 “Declaring Ancestral Lands Occupied and Cultivated by National Cultural Communities as Alienable and Disposable, and for other Purposed”. This edict had a ten – year period of effectively but it lapsed without getting implemented. It was overtaken by events, one of which was the shaky bureaucratic realignments and reorganizations that plagued the dictatorial regime.
Subsequent laws passed by resurrected congress did not alleviate the suffering and dislocation of the Moro people. Bureaucratic red tape and unconscionable practice of certain irreverent parties taking advantage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), as extended, and other programs like the Integrated Social Forestry and the issuance, and other Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) made matters worse. Even wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, like Liguasan Marsh and Lake Lanao, were surreptitiously titled and mortgage with the Land bank of the Philippines (LBP).
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTIES OF AND WAR VICTIM’S: DISPLACED AND LANDLESS BANGSAMORO MUSLIMS:
The destruction of properties, loss of hundreds of thousands on innocent lives, physical and psychological injuries to those who survived the bloody wars from the early 1970’s to the present, and displacement and or disposition of lot more came as result of genocidal.
As an instrument to fulfill the grand design of the Marcos government, then President Ferdinand E.Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972 to support the ILAGA movement backed up by the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and Philippine Army (PA), see the book of Dr. Muslim. Until the middle part of 1971, ILAGA operations were concentrated in various Muslim villages in the municipalities of the then two Cotabato Provinces (North and South) with mixed populations, but largely in municipalities where the Muslims were in minority. In the second half of the 1971, they reached the province of Lanao del Sur, particularly the municipality of Wao which was among the centers of the Christian Filino migration. Then, they spread to several towns of Lanao del Norte and in Bukidnon Province.In 1972, ILAGA operated in Zamboanga del Sur. For the period of two years, practically all – Muslim areas in Mindanao were under seige the ILAGA backed up by Philippine Constabulary (PC),. and the Philippine Army (PA).
June 19, 1971 is a very memorable moment for the Bangsamoro Muslims of Carmen, North Cotabato particularly in the village of Manili with more than 70 innocent Moro civilians were massacred by the agent of the Marcos regime particularly the ILAGAs and the Philippine Constabulary (PC). In six months period from January 1971, a total of 358 Moro Muslim were recorded killed by the ILAGA backed up by the PC and PA. In the town Alamada, North Cotabato alone, about 92 houses were recorded burned. In the nearby towns, 55 Moro Muslims houses in Carmen, North Cotabato; 18 in Pikit, North Cotabato; 25 in Kidapawan, North Cotabato and 22 in Buldon, Maguindanao were all burned by the ILAGA in just five days in August, 1971. A total of 411 Moro Muslim’s houses were burned in the town of Wao, Lanao del Sur and Buldon, Maguindanao, respectively.
Other towns with notable killing and burning of several hundreds or even thousands of Muslim houses, masjeeds, and Islamic schools were: Magsaysay, Lanao del Norte; Kisulon, Bukidnon Province; and Siay and Ipil in Zamboanga del Sur. A notable ILAGA Commander Toothpick reinforced by a PC Captain Manuel Tronco made Upi, Cotabato as his Kingdom. As pointed out by a Muslim leader, Senator mamintal Tamano when interviewing the Muslim evacuees of barrio Kulongkulong, Palembang, Cotabato, after the more than two thousand Muslim (men and women, young and old) massacred in their barrio (village) on January 2, 1972, I could not shake their belief that some of the ILAGA were soldiers of the marcos regime. The incident was popularly known as “Kulongkulong Massacre”. Jubair (1999) in his book, confirmed the findings of Dr. Muslim in his dissertation.
Apperaring simultaneously with the reported ILAGA atrocities, until the middle part of 1972 were series of massacres of Muslims reportedly by the units of the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Army.. It was noted thatthere were 73
Muslims massacred by PC in Alamada, Cotabato in January 19, 1971; 40 Muslims were massacred by the Philippine Army in Tacub and Kausuagan all in Lanao del Norte, according to Salah Jubair. In the same incident, some 162 were reported missing allegedly salvaged by the Philippine Army soldiers. In a neighboring town of Magsaysay, Lanao del Norte scores of Muslim civilians were on their way for voting and were gunned down by the Philippine Army soldiers.
These atrocities against the Bangsamoro Muslims by the ILAGA and the military machineries of the Philippine government had converted several Muslim areas as ‘Killing Fields”, where the rest are evacuation centers. Naturally, the Muslims in these areas and those of the neighboring towns were forced to leave behind their farms and homes, many of which were subsequently looted and occupied by the Christian settlers even up to this writing. Worst, those land occupied by the Christian settlers from the Luzon and Visayas were titled forcefully with manipulations and connivance with the corrupt, liar Philippine government officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Register of Deeds.
Records or documents submitted to the Egyptian – Libyan team that visited the Philippines in 1972 could give us a sense of the extent of displacement suffered by the Bangsamoro Muslims. Not to include the recent war victims between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the freedom fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Saranggani, Maguindanao, Basilan and Sulu after the Philippine government did not sign the initialled Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in August 2008 at Putrajaya, Malaysia.
The following are some of the vacated Moro Muslim areas presently occupied by the Christian settlers from Luzon and Visayas:
1. Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat Province – Moro Muslims in this town were totally displaced by the Christians. These Moro Muslims evecuated to Maganoy and Datu Piang towns in Maguindanao Province. Their houses and masjeeds were burned and effects looted.
2. Ampatuan, Maguindanao and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat – Moro Muslims in these areas have been driven either to Buluan, Maganoy and Datu Piang towns; their houses and masjeeds were burned and effects looted.
3. Alamada, North Cotabato – Moro Muslims were driven to the neighboring towns ofBuldon and Sultan Kudarat; their houses and masjeeds were burned and effects looted.
4. Colombio, Sultan Kudarat Province – Moro Muslims were driven to Alep (Datu Paglas) and Buluan; their houses and masjeeds burned and effects looted.
5. Upi, Maguindanao Province – Moro Muslims were driven to the poblacion, to Cotabato City and Dinaeg (now Datu Odin Sinsuat town); their house and masjeeds were burned; their effects looted.
6. Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Province – Moro Muslims were driven to Lebak, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat and Parang; their houses and masjeeds were burned; their properties looted.
7. Lanao del Sur – Moro Muslm in Wao town were driven to the interiors of Lanao del Sur, their houses and masjeeds were burned; their effects looted.
8. Lanao del Norte – All Moro Muslims living along the National Highway from one end to the other, a distance of over 100 kilometers were driven to the interiors of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur; their houses and masjeeds were burned; their properties looted.
9. Zamboanga del Sur – All Moro Muslimms in the several small villages along the seacoast of the peninsula were driven to Basilan and Sulu Provinces; their houses and masjeeds were burned; their effects looted.
10. Bukidnon Province – All Moro Muslims living in several towns in Bukidnon were driven to Lanao del Sur Province; their houses and masjeeds were burned; their effects looted.
To sumarize the extent and effect of the first two years of the ILAGA and Philippine government’s military atrocities, we could conclude that the Moro Muslims in the rural areas of the Bangsamoro Homeland were badly devastated which under INTERNATIONAL LAWS needs CONDEMNATION and INDEMNIFICATION. Hundreds of thousands of houses, madaris (Islamic schools) and Masjeeds (House of Worship)were burned and tens of thousands of innocent Bangsamoro were massacred and more than one Million of rural Bangsamoro residents were displaced even up to this writing. About five hundred thousands (500,000) are still living in the island state of Sabah, Malaysia as refugees and thousands upon thousands are refugees in other urban centers in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon. It should also be worthwhile to take note the permanent and partial lost of properties and lives of the Bangsamoro Muslims living along the seacoasts of Zamboanga peninsula, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi whose number reached to about one Million.
The problem of refugees has remained unsolved uo to this day. Displaced Moro Muslims could not return to their places of origin , especially in Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur Provinces because either their lands have been stolen and titled by other parties or they fear continued persecution from the Philippine government occupational armed forces. Compounding is what is termed now as “STATISTICAL GENOCIDE” whereby the Bangsamoro people are subjected to minoritization in the national statistics records of the Philippine government. At present even the National Statistical Office could not provide an accurate figure regarding the nearest estimate of the Bangsamoro population. For several years now, the NSO’s census reports have shown a slow growth of the Bangsamoro population, which is quite improbable campaigns and military operations undertaken in the Bangsamoro Homeland today.
HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES AND CONCERS:
The Bangsamoro Muslims are the native inhabitants of Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan Tawi-Tawi and Palawan, who are not Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine (11 April, 1899), and then resided in said Islands, who have neither been naturalized under either of Act No. 2927 and Commonwealth Act No. 473, nor have ever been elected to public office prior to the adoption of the 1935 Constitution.
The Bangsamoro Muslims have fought against Spaniard, American, Japanese, then Filipino aggressions of their ancestal domain, now invoke the human right protection and guarantees accorded them by international conventions and customary laws.
The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitute a denial of fundamental human rights, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. The process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and that, in order to avoid crises, an end must be put to colonialism.
The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of the Bangsamoro People is the foundation of liberty, justice and lasting and comprehensive peace in Mindanao and its islands. It is essential, if the Bangsamoro Nation and People are not to be compelled to pursue rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that their human rights be protected by the rule of law. The ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone in Mindanao and its Islands may enjoy his or her economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights.
The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every humman person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. The human right to development also implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self – determination, including their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all of their natural wealth and resources.
The Government of the Republic of the Philippines has undertaken to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the international covenants. The Government of the Republic of the Phlippines has also undertaken to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the international covenants, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necesary to give effect to the rights recognized by international law and conventions. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines is under obligation under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, keeping such Declaration constantly in mind, striving by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among its peoples and among the peoples of Mindanao and its islands.