Surrenderees not MILF but Christians, Higaonons of Iligan City

August 22, 2008


The 31 so-called surrenderees from Commander Bravo Macapaar are not MILF but Higaonons and Christians from Rugongen, Iligan City. This was the clarification made to Luwaran by an aide of Bravo yesterday


However, he admitted the 31 had a very brief stint with Bravo’s group last year but only to return to their places since.


They are not really with the MILF, but mere curious seekers with life in the mountains, the aide added.


He said it is unfortunate that the government is using every means to discredit the MILF to cover up its treachery in Kuala Lumpur for not signing the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Malaysia last
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AFP uses excessive force against Muslim communities

August 21, 2008

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had been employing excessive force in its indiscriminate military cleansing operations against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the past days. Heavy air strikes from OV 10 bomber plane, F5 and MG520 Helicopter gunships and artillery and mortar shelling were unleashed by the AFP soon after the ground attack it perpetrated against the MILF forces. The firefight lasted for few hours with the reconnaissance troops moving out and gave way for the dastardly air bombs.
At around 550am yesterday, the AFP attacked the MILF forces at Barangays Kuloy, Tapikan 1, Tapikan 2 and Kuloy all of Shariff Aguak Maguinadano. But this time, the aggressive AFP engaged not only the 105th Base Command of Ustaz Ameril Umbra Kato but also the Task Force Ittihad (Unity) of the MILF Central Committee.


The ferocious assault dispersed civilians, destroyed properties and livelihood and pulverized downtrodden Muslim communities. Neighboring towns of Datu Piang, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay Ampatuan, Mamasapano were adversely affected.


Task Force Ittihad is an arm of the MILF Central Committee designated in the MILF communities in 10 Maguindanao towns to promote unity among the MILF, local government units, AFP / PNP units in the area and their constituencies.


The attack on Ittihad is tantamount to a direct attack on the MILF highest leadership, GRP – MILF peace process and ceasefire.


Thousands of civilian fled with their children and belongings placed in carts carried by carabao. Now they are staying in makeshifts under trees, along the roads and relatives.


Two elements of the AFP were killed following their attack.


Last night, hundreds of AFP troops consolidated at Barangay Olandang, Midsayap, Cotabato believed to be preparing for another attack against the MILF forces.


This morning at around 5am, the same troops attack the MILF troops along the riverside of Barangay Kadigasan and Damatulan, both of Midsayap, Cotabato.

Another new infantry unit arrived in Maguindanao to augment the already highly beefed-up AFP troops conducting cleansing operations against MILF and aggrieved civilian communities

FOR MORO AGREEMENTS:PLEBISCITE FOR MOROS ONLY

The stalled and now very controversial GRP-MILF AGREEMENT has made many things apparent. First is the extreme dislike of the Christian majority to give the Moros any semblance of distinct identity. They still maintain and promote the myth of the one-nation one-people. That is of course understandable because they are the great majority. They get all the advantages while the Bangsa Moro people slowly but surely are driven into oblivion.

Second, it showed the apparent naivety of the Moros to believe in the sincerity of the government and the political and constitutional processes. Agreeing to a PLEBISCITE in specific locations is a very bad idea. And Congress – both houses – could never be hoped to craft a law favoring the Bangsa Moro’s real aspirations.

TERRITORY

The Bangsa Moro Homeland or territory must be composed of, at the MINIMUM, the areas specified in the Tripoli Agreement of 1976. Nothing less.

At most, it should be the land territory of the Sultanate of Maguindanao, Sultanate of Sulu, Rajaship of Buayan, the Maranao Confederacy and other Moro datuships as of 1898, the signing of the Treaty of Paris between America and Spain. This is because Spain had absolutely no right to cede what was not theirs. The Americans realized this and so they signed a separate treaty (the Bates Treaty) with the Sultan of Sulu.

Or, let the territory be according to the Moro Province created by the Americans which comprised all territory lying south of the 8th parallel latitude except Palawan and the eastern portion of the northwest peninsula of Mindanao. This includes the whole of Lanao, Davao, Cotabato, Zamboanga and Sulu before these provinces were dismembered later.

But Palawan was given to the Sultan of Sulu by the Sultan of Brunei at the same time as Sabah. If Palawan could not be part of the Bangsa Moro homeland, it should be given back to its first owners – Brunei — or be part of the Malaysian Federation like Sabah.

There was neither rhyme nor reason for the Americans to give the Moro province to the Philippines to form a Philippine Republic in 1946.

The Moro Province was NEVER a part of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 or 1898 or the Philippine Republic of Aguinaldo.

A cursory glance at history – real history not the fiction of Most Filipino historians – show that the Moros and Indios were never one people. Never until 1946. But the various Moro rebellions and the MNLF and MILF wars show that the Moros are not satisfied with being a second-class citizen in the Philippine Republic.

The ARMM territory is not recognized by most Moros as the totality of their Homeland.

PLEBISCITE

If future negotiations would occur, the Moros should insist that a plebiscite must be FOR MOROS ONLY. That is, only Moros should be asked because it concerns their future, their lands, their inheritance and legacy. And they are the indigenous peoples of Mindanao and Sulu.

They are the ones struggling for self-determination. The settlers have no business participating in such plebiscites or referenda.

The non-Muslim indigenous inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu should of course be asked, too. Historically, they had always been considered Moros or Moro allies.

Moreover, there are MORE Moros living outside ARMM than those living in the ARMM. The plebiscite therefore should include ALL MOROS ALL OVER THE PHILIPPINES.

WHO ARE THE MOROS?

Perhaps it would also be better to define who the Moros are. Maybe a good definition would be the following:

A Moro is anyone who has at least one parent or two grand parents who are full-blooded Moros.

A full-blooded Moro is one whose parents (father and mother) were born in Mindanao to Muslim parents indigenous to Mindanao.

Exception to this rule are the members of indigenous peoples of Mindanao who are usually referred to as Moros but many of whom are non-Muslims like the Yakans.

NO MORE AGREEMENTS

The Tripoli and Jakarta Agreements with the MNLF did not solve the Moro Problem. Neither will the agreement with the MILF.

The aspirations for a true and real freedom will always be in the heart of every Moro, even those who kowtow to the powers that be. There will be no peace in Mindanao if the Moros continue to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune simply because they are Moros.

The Moros need to unite and petition the United Nation for DECOLONIZATION and ask it to conduct a plebiscite for the Moros. They can also petition the OIC to help them in the U.N.

If the UN could create a state for the European Jews in Palestine and call it Israel, and could create a country called Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, which was nothing but a neglected trading post in the colonial times, then it should be easier to create a sovereign Bangsa Moro Federal State which has territory, people, and a long history as independent and sovereign states.

MILF – GRP AGREEMENT: DEATH TO PEACE AGREEMENTS

From Reflections on the Bangsa Moro

Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let loose the dogs of war.”

Now that the cat is out of the bag, the dogs are let loose. For years, the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been hammering out a peace agreement that would satisfy both parties. This has been done under the auspices of the Malaysian government with the blessings and cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

But was it really done to satisfy both parties? Or was the MILF merely hoodwinked into believing that the Philippine government was sincere? Because of the so-called peace process, which is what the GRP-MILF negotiations is called, the MILF has been co-opted into a “non-revolutionary” existence and abiding by the Ceasefire Agreement.

Yet while the ‘peace process’ was going on, the government’s propaganda machine continually picture the MILF as a band of bandits, allied with the Abu Sayyaf, responsible for killings and bombings including beheading 10 Marines. At least twice, Philippine courts issued warrants of arrests for MILF leaders, including the top leadership, as if they were ordinary criminals subject to Philippine laws.

But the MILF persevered in the ‘peace process’. And just when they were about to cross the finish line, the cat was let out of the bag, and the dogs are everywhere ready to tear it to pieces.

TRIPOLI AGREEMENT ET AL

The MILF should have learned from the Tripoli Agreement. The Moros were winning the war in the 1970s. President Marcos begged for a Ceasefire. The Tripoli Agreement was signed. Then Marcos distorted the Agreement by claiming “constitutional process”. Everything the Moros fought for was turned upside down by the government which gave the Moros a non-autonomous “autonomous government” instead.

When Marcos left, Cory Aquino completed Marcos’s “constitutional process” via the 1987 Constitution and Organic Act (RA 6734) to systemically destroy the Tripoli Agreement. Together with my brother and other Moros, we filed a petition at the Supreme Court (GR 89651) questioning the Organic Act. Of course, the court ruled against us.

Our prime argument was that the Tripoli Agreement was an international treaty and binding to the Philippine government. It was thus part of the law of the land.

And since the Tripoli Agreement was in conflict with the Organic Act, the Organic Act should be deemed invalid.

The Supreme Court did not rule on the validity of the Tripoli Agreement but it declared:

Assuming for the sake of argument that the Tripoli Agreement is a binding treaty or international agreement, it would then constitute part of the law of the land. But as internal law it would not be superior to R.A. No. 6734, an enactment of the Congress of the Philippines, rather it would be in the same class as the latter … Thus, if at all, R.A. No. 6734 would be amendatory of the Tripoli Agreement, being a subsequent law.

From this ruling, it would seem that the government can sign any treaty or agreement with the Moros, and simply pass a subsequent law that would radically amend it. As simple as that.

The Organic Act was the final straw that broke the Tripoli Agreement. Because of the Organic Act, the Bangsa Moro homeland was reduced to a handful of provinces and did not even include Cotabato City. At first, even Marawi City opted out but joined the ARMM later.

JAKARTA ACCORD AND MISUARI’S FALL

In 1996, Misuari was persuaded (some say strong-armed) to sign the Jakarta Accord and to come back to the Philippines. And so he did amidst the applause of Filipinos, OIC leaders and some Moros.

But the honeymoon was short-lived. From a virtual head-of-state recognized by many Muslim countries, Nur Misuari was ignominiously arrested and imprisoned by the Philippine government for years. Only recently, Misuari was released on bail and is now drumming up support in Mindanao.

Misuari, presumably, opposes the GRP-MILF pact. He says he has nothing to do with it.

AN END TO ALL AGREEMENTS

The recent developments have shown to all and sundry – including foreign observers – that the Philippine government cannot be trusted with peace agreements. The Philippine government will sign a million peace agreements but it will never abide by them. This has been proven by the Tripoli Agreement, the Jakarta Accord, the Final Peace Agreement and now, the Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

It is high time that the Bangsa Moro people wake up to reality.

NO WAR – NO PEACE

The no peace-no war situation is Mindanao should stop as it has been hindering the growth of the country and hampering the lives of the people. While our Asian neighbors leapfrog into 21st century as newly industrialized countries and world’s leading economies, the Philippine government last year trumpeted as its greatest achievement a GDP growth of 7.3 % — its highest since 1976, the year the Tripoli Agreement was signed and the country was in the grip of Martial Law.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Philippines was the second most progressive economy in Asia (next only to Japan). But then the Mindanao war erupted. And from then on the Philippines has become “the sick man of Asia.” Isn’t there a clear connection?

From the 1970s to today, the standard of living of our Asian neighbors – Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, etc. have improved hundreds-fold. While the poor Filipino standard of living has even declined such that the government last year was so happy to have reached a GDP growth it hasn’t had since the 1970s. This is a crime to the people of the Philippines.

And the only reason that that GDP growth was achieved was because millions of Filipinos have to slave away abroad, working hard to earn precious dollars and send them to their relatives back home.

A stop to the no-war no-peace situation in Mindanao is the only way for the country to develop as it will stop the billions of pesos spent on military spending, encourage foreign investments in the country and promote tourism in Mindanao and elsewhere.

But there will be no peace if the Bangsa Moro peoples will be deprived of their heritage, culture, lands and resources as well as the opportunities for a decent way of life.

The RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION

It is the right of every nation, every people to determine its own destiny, its own path. The Bangsa Moro cannot rely on the other party’s good faith.

One peaceful way for the Bangsa Moro people is to petition the United Nations to conduct a clean and honest Referendum for and by the Moro people to determine what they want – Independence, Greater Autonomy in a Federal State or Integration with the dominant Filipino people in one nation-state. And everybody should abide by the results.

The alternative to real peace is real war.

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The territories of a Homeland is not subject to the will of illegal occupants.

MORO homeland is Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan

The GRP – MILF Peace Agreement — on Ancestral Domain has the Indios – otherwise known as Filipinos — up in arms against their government. They are aghast that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines ((GRP) has agreed to give a few hundred square kilometers of territory to what would be called the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

But the territory mentioned in that agreement is nothing compared to the Bangsa Moro homeland envisioned in the Tripoli Agreement. In the the Tripoli Agreement, the Homeland is composed of 13 (now 14 since Sarangani was made into a new province) provinces; namely: Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, Palawan and South Cotabato, which included Sarangani and all the cities in those provinces.

In the Final Peace Agreement signed between the GRP and the MNLF in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1996 states that it constitutes “the full implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement in letter and spirit…”

The MILF – GRP agreement therefore adds nothing to the moro territory. Instead, it greatly reduced it by agreeing to have only the present ARMM and a few more villages.

The Bangsa Moro homeland is based on historical rights. The Sultanate of Maguindanao and Sulu and the Rajaship of Buayan were recognized by foreign powers — the British, Spanish and Dutch empires. Even the US had treaties with the Sultanate of Sulu. The Ranao Confederacy (Pat a Pangampung ku Ranaw) was never conquered by the Spaniards. In fact, Spain’s only claim to Mindanao was the establishment of a few forts peopled with a sprinkling of Spaniards and settlements of Indios from the Visayas.

Spain had absolutely no right to cede Moroland to the Americans in the 1898 Treaty of Paris because it had not conquered Moroland.

America realized that fact so it signed the Bates Treaty with the Sulu Sultanate afterwards.

In 1946, America had no right to include Moroland to the Philippines when it granted the Indios independence.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the unconquered Moroland became the colonies of the former subject peoples of Spain and America, the Indios who now call themselves Filipinos.

With laws such as the “Colonization of Mindanao Act”, the Indios promptly colonized Moroland by sending millions of Indios to grab the lands and resources of the indigenous peoples of Moroland.

The 1968 Jabidah Massacre and the series of massacres that followed in the early 1970s woke the Moro people from a long slumber. And so the Moros rose up as a people in the 1970s.

The Tripoli Agreement, the Jakarta Accord and the MILF-GRP MOA are but mere setbacks in the centuries-long struggle of the Moros for Freedom, Islam and Homeland.