War in Moro land – by Macapanton Abbas, Jr.

This is a CONTINUATION of Prof. Macapanton Yahya Abbas‘s “Is a Bangsa Moro State within a Federation the Solution?”



The brief history of the present Bangsa Moro Struggle, which I will present in the first person because I was one of the original members of the movement from 1965 onward.  This is perhaps the first time I will be writing on this matter because I want the Bangsa Moro Youth and the Filipino People to understand the Islamic Struggle of our people while there are still some of the originators of the struggle who are still alive and involved in different capacities in the society.

Even before the Jabidah Massacre in 1968, the Muslim students organized on the national level, the CNI Scholars Association and the Muslim Students Association of the Philippines which started as social organizations.  In 1965, because of the Vietnam War and massive influx of settlers to Mindanao, the student leaders from UP injected these issues and started the militancy of the Muslim students.  The first issue to be questioned was the policy of “National Integration” because the Muslims believe that they can not be integrated culturally and socially to the Philippine society that is based on Christian values and acceptance, of Spanish colonialism as a blessing and heritage that resulted to the Christianization of the Philippines.  The scholars and the Commission on National Integration supported this position and what the country needed was “unity in diversity” and possibly a “federal system of government” since amendments to the constitution was on the national agenda for 1971.

The Muslim Youth organized that National Coordinating Council for Islamic Affairs (NACCIA) and issued a Manifesto entitled “Al Wahid” in 1967 calling on the Filipino leadership to pay greater attention to the miserable situation of the Muslims before rebellion will break out.  There was a massive influx of settlers to the Muslim areas and displacement of Muslims and Lumads was widespread.  The government was encouraging the immigration of settlers from Visayas especially from Negros provinces, Leyte, Samar, and Iloilo, because of the problems of the sugar plantation workers.  There were also massive logging activities denuding the Mindanao forests by concessionaires from Luzon like the Antoninos, Sarmientos, Valencias, Floreindos, Alcantaras, etc..  These new economic elite who were the agents of Korean, Japanese, US and European companies destroyed the forests of Mindanao which were preserved because of the failure to colonize the Bangsa Moro.  These groups that destroyed the environment are now the industrial and financial controllers of the region including installing their protégés in the political positions and even dictate policies for the Bangsa Moro.  The NACCIA warned that these economic aggressions against the Muslims in their homeland and political displacement will be met with armed struggle.  The government did not listen as usual.

In 1968, trainees from Sulu (Sulu and Tawi-tawi was one province then) in the Army were massacred by their officers at Corregidor when they demanded their pay and to return to their homes because they refused to go Sabah to infiltrate and start the rebellion to reclaim Sabah for the Philippines.  The Commanding Officer was Major Eddie Martelino, an alleged convert to Islam (who was later executed by the MNLF-Malaysians in Sabah after his capture sometime in 1978-79).  This incident led Congressmen Rashid Lucman, Salipada Pendatun and Salih Ututalum to demand congressional investigations backed by massive youth demonstrations which took over the Congress premises.  Only Congressmen Indanan Ani and Ali Dimaporo sided with President Marcos.

The Union of Islamic Forces and Organizations composed of all the National Muslim organizations under the leadership of Sultan Rashid Lucman was organized.  I was elected Secretary General.  My assignment was to organize the demonstrations.  I organized and led the demonstrations in front of Congress while Nur Misuari and Abul Alonto organized the sit-in at Freedom Park, Malacanang.  I led the demonstration in Jolo – the first and last anti-government demonstration of around 10,000 persons and in Cotabato City with the MIM and Marawi City with the BMLF leaders.  I was then Private Secretary to Commissioner Tamano at CNI, so, I filed my resignation which was not accepted, but I was allowed to go on leave of absence by Executive Secretary Rafael Salas because I refused to desist from leading the demonstrations.  I told him, “if Ilonggo soldiers were massacred, would you keep silent because you are in government?  He smiled and told me that he will inform President Marcos, and they will not take any action against me.  Despite my action, my brother-in-law was taken as the Muslim Senatorial candidate.  Maybe Marcos would have dealt with the Muslims properly if only Martial Law was not declared.  In that election, only Congressman Pendatun was returned to Congress because of massive fraud and vote buying which defeated the anti-Marcos Congressmen but a Muslim senator was elected in the person of Senator Mamintal Tamano.

The foreign trained top “90 has returned home and were welcomed by Senator Ninoy Aquino at Malabang, Lanao Sur.  The local training camps were established and the Top “90 became the trainors.  At that time, the secret organization was the Bangsa Moro Liberation Front (BMLF) which was later named Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO) under Sultan Rashid Lucman and General Salipada Pendatun.  The Top “90 also secretly organized the Moro National Liberation Front headed by Nur Misuari and Abul Alonto.  The young Ulama, professionals and youth leaders were with the BMLF.  This was also the first time that Bangsa Moro was used to refer to the Muslims in the Philippines.  The MNLF used Moro only.  This came after the Muslim Youth National Assembly (MYNA) wherein, over 200 youth leaders met in Zamboanga City at the same time with the Muslim Association of the Philippines Congress in 1969.  Almost all the future leaders of the MNLF, MILF, BMLO and political leaders of the Muslims were present.

The MYNA debated independence or federation as the exercise of the right of self-determination of the Bangsa Moro people.  After two days, the vote that won was to participate in the Constitutional Convention election of 1971 and proposed a Federal system to get a Bangsa Moro state.  That is why, Nur Misuari, Mike Mastura, Musib Buat, Hussin Pangato of MIM, others and myself ran in the Concon elections and only Mike Mastura was able to make it due to massive cheating and vote buying to assure Marcos a majority.  The Federal proposal never saw the light of day in the Concon and the Constitution of 1973 did not contain any provision to respect Bangsa Moro right of self-determination.  Only Delegate Banjamin Abubakar of Sulu refused to vote for the approval of the Constitution and he truly represented the aspirations of the Bangsa Moro people and not the Muslim delegates who capitulated to Marcos.[1]

The 1970-72 period saw the escalation of violence between the Barracudas and Ilagas in Lanao Norte and Black shirts and Ilagas in the Cotabato massacres.  The Ilagas “rats” were paramilitary forces of President Ferdinand E. Marcos and supported by the AFP directly or indirectly. The Mindanao Independence Movement was organized by Datu Udtog Matalam, patriarch of Cotabato, in 1969 which led to the violent clashes and became the stimulus for the government and Christian militias to launch massacres against unarmed Muslims as in the Manile, Cotabato massacre of Muslims in a Masjid (mosque);  the Lutayan; the Tacub; the IPIL and the Pata, Sulu massacres etc.  The people of Buldon fought a battle against the AFP wherein the air force, artillery and tanks were used against a Moro town.  They fought until Mayor Tomatic Aratuc met with President Marcos and the government forces were withdrawn.  That time the President was the real Commander-in-Chief and was responsible for all the military assaults on the Moro Communities.

This situation continued and the BMLF under Sultan Lucman and General Pendatun decided to file genocide charges against President Marcos at the UN and also at the OIC.  A Petition was filed with UN Commission on Human Rights, through the UN Office in Manila in 1971.  This was reported on the BBC world radio and was heard by Col. Ghadaffi of Libya who was then the new leader of his country and decided to respond.  He sent his Foreign Minister Saleh Buoyaser to Manila as a Professor to attend the World Universities Conference.  That was how the Bangsa Moro case was internationalized.  This led to the organization of the Islamic Directorate of the Philippines (IDP) where all the Muslim political leaders joined as well the youth leaders including the writer, Misuari and Salamat.  Dean Ceasar Adib Majul was elected Chair as non-partisan leader and this author Secretary General.


 This is from IS A BANGSA MORO STATE WITHIN A FEDERATION THE SOLUTION? by Macapanton Abbas, Jr. (Ateneo Law Journal  Vol. 48  Sept 2003)

To continue,  go to:

PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS WITH MORO GROUPS                                                          door_rt

To Go Back , Go To “Is A Bangsa Moro State Within a Federation the Solution?”



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