Politics is a numbers game

Politics is a numbers game. The propaganda team and supporters of President Duterte keep on repeating that 16.6 million people voted for him for president. But that is NOT even a majority vote. Mr. Duterte got only 39.01% of the electoral votes. MORE people voted AGAINST him. Ex-President Aquino got a much bigger percentage — 42.08%– of the people’s votes. And he won on a bigger spread over his rival ex Pres. Estrada – 42.08% over 26.25% – as compared to Duterte’s win over Mar Roxas: 39.01% over 23.45%.  The two presidents previous to Mr. Aquino also got more percentage votes than Mr. Duterte. Ex-President Arroyo got 39.99% and ex-Pres. Estrada got 39.86%.  So what in the world is Mr. Duterte so proud of???!!!

Numbers Speak

And his peace and security policies? After only one year in office, he created a lot of havoc — tens of thousands killed and wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced. And of course, nothing can top the Rape of Marawi — the destruction of a city, billions of dollars worth of buildings and infrastructure destroyed, and billions of pesos looted by the soldiers from the houses of the residents of the city who were forced to leave their homes due to the proclamation of Martial Law, the orders of the provincial leaders and the threat of aerial bombing.


The economic numbers are not good, too.

deficits graph-5

And the value of the peso keeps on sliding down relative to the US dollar (the value of the US dollar keeps on going up):
pesomax 1

Yet other Asian currencies are doing very well against the US dollar!
asian currency vs dollar

So who are those people saying that Philippine economy is doing great?! With the prices of goods and services going up due to the new tax regime, the poorer fans of Mr. Duterte might just abandon their idol if they can’t make both ends meet for their families.


Bangsa Moro Homeland — the Impossible Dream


Would you negotiate with a pushover? Yes, but only to get even more advantages. The Spaniards only negotiated with the Moro sultanates when they realized they couldn’t defeat them. The Americans signed treaties with the Sulu Sultanate when their hands were full with the Philippine revolution in Luzon. Afterwards, they massacred the people of Sulu in Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak, among others. During the Philippine Republic, the government dealt with Moro rebellions with an iron hand like in the Kamlon rebellion and the various massacres in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was only in 1976 when the MNLF were giving the Philippine Armed Forces a very rough time that the government sued for peace. It was the Philippines who begged for a peace agreement in 1976, which resulted in the Tripoli Agreement. But the diabolical Marcos reneged on the agreement on the excuse of “constitutional processes”.

With the expulsion of Marcos and the national enthusiasm for renewed peace and democracy in a new constitution, an Organic Act for an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was created. But again, the craftiness of Filipino political leaders, with the collusion of the Supreme Court, the ARMM became a totally powerless and inutile institution. It is certainly not what the thousands of martyred Moros, and tens of thousands of mujahideens fought for and millions of Moros dreamed of.

In 1996, President Ramos wanted to have peace in Mindanao. With the help of USA and Libya’s Qaddafi, MNLF’s Nur Misuari was strong-armed to accept a “Final Peace Agreement”. Again, it was a dud.

Meanwhile the MILF gathered strength and showed its might once in a while. President Arroyo, in order to co-opt the MILF leaders, held long-term negotiations while supplying arms and materiel to the warlord Ampatuan, who was her leverage against the MILF.

The MOA-AD between Arroyo’s government and the MILF was turned down by the Filipino people, including the Supreme Court.

President Aquino followed Ms. Aquino’s tactics. He tied up the MILF to long-term negotiations only to have its BBL turned upside down by Congress/Senate and the Filipino people.

President Duterte, who claims to be pro-Moro, promised a BBL and two Moro federal states – one each for MNLF and MILF. But before all that, he bombed Marawi to kingdom come on the pretext that a couple hundred of Mranaos, mostly from the Maute clan, are actually ISIS fighters and had taken over the city.

The MNLF and MILF supported the Philippine government. Otherwise, they could lose the promised federal states. And the Moro political leaders all kowtowed to Mr. Duterte.

The Islamic City of Marawi was totally bombed out by military jets and howitzer cannons and tanks and what-not, including drones from dear old USA, supposedly an enemy of Mr. Duterte. And the houses were looted. The Rape of Marawi continued for months. And even after the government declared victory, the residents were not allowed to return. So many innocent civilians died at the hands of th military.

The government now plans to have its military occupy the city and dispossess further the residents of their lands by proclaiming most of the city as public domain.

Yet, in spite of all these, some Moros are still hoping that the government will give them a good, powerful BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) that would create an autonomous sub-state or even a federal state.

Now, how could the Moros or Muslim Filipinos or Muslims in the Philippines expect or hope that the Philippine government, Congress /Senate and the Christian Filipino people give them REAL autonomy or REAL sub-state status or REAL Federal state rights or a powerful BBL??

Why in the world will the Philippine government, Congress and the Christian Filipino people give them anything when they think (and because of the Rape of Marawi, they think they KNOW for sure) that they can just bomb the Moro cities and provinces into oblivion any time they want!!! And so-called Moro revolutionary groups and so-called Moro political leaders and their non-(critical) thinking supporters will even applaud them for it!!!

The Bangsa Moro revolutionary leaders, of what is left of them, have forgotten that one must negotiate out of strength, not out of weakness.






ASEAN silent on the Rape of Marawi


asean see no evil


As expected, the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, as well as world leaders like American President Donald Trump, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were silent on the just concluded Rape of Marawi as well as the genocide of Rohingyas and the Extrajudicial Killings in Manila and nearby provinces.

marawi 12Marawi City was ravaged by the Philippine government for more than 6 months with heavy aerial bombings and tank and artillery attacks. The city’s buildings, houses, and mosques were totally destroyed. And the houses and buildings were looted. And many civilians were killed.

On May 23, 2017, the government of President Duterte declared Martial Law in Marawi and the whole island of Mindanao. Duterte, with the collusion of the political leaders of Marawi and the governor and vice governor of Lanao del Sur, demanded that the city dwellers leave their city for other places. An exodus was immediately organized.

The reason for the evacuation of the whole city and the declaration of Martial Law was the presence of some 50 armed people of the Maute clan claiming to be ISIS soldiers.marawi

After the evacuation of the city, the military still did not enter Marawi. Instead, they gave the Maute supporters time to deploy themselves all over the city, choosing the choicest spots for snipers. After 3 days or so, the government entered Marawi with hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles and thousands of soldiers. And the bombings started. Every day. For six months.

The media, local and foreign, dubbed the Rape of Marawi as the “Marawi Siege”, with the Maute family and supporters doing the siege. The Cambridge dictionary online defines siege as “the surrounding of a place by an armed force in order to defeat those defending it.”

The Philippine Armed Forces surrounded Marawi City and the ones defending their positions inside the city were the Maute family and their supporters. But the media made it appear that the Mautes were the ones doing the siege.

soldier stealing CPUs in Marawi
Soldiers looting houses in Marawi.


And now, with the “war” officially over, the government and the military still control Marawi. Marawi is now a garrison city. The government announced a team composed of Christian Filipino officials to “rehabilitate” Marawi. Reportedly, there are plans to put a large military base in the city.

President Duterte proclaimed the end of the war on Oct. 17, but up to today, most residents of Marawi are still not allowed to return to their homes. Everything is under the control of the military. Residents’ movements are controlled and they all must present IDs.

Martial Law is still in place and it is expected that it will continue to be in place, esp. in Marawi City.

The supposed representatives of the Bangsa Moro, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are totally quiet. Both groups’ leaders expect themselves to be made rulers of two Moro federal states that will be created by President Duterte. The MILF is predominantly Maguindanaon while MNLF is predominantly TauSug. Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province are inhabited by the Mranaos, a distinct nation of more than a million people with a history and culture quite different from other Moro groups


Contrary to government propaganda, the Filipino soldiers who destroyed and looted Marawi, aside from killing civilians, are not heroes. The Mranaos themselves could have easily fought off the Maute family – without destroying the city. In fact, Mranao top government officials supposedly told President Duterte that the Mranaos can handle the Mautes themselves, but Duterte insisted on letting his military do it.

The Mranaw and Moro political leaders are partly to blame. They somehow lost their balls.

As one Facebook Page admin wrote: “Marawi did not fall before the might of the Spanish Empire. But it fell before the tanks and aerial bombings of the Philippine government (with the help of US drones and military advisers) playing war games with a ragtag “army” of Moro fundamentalists belonging to one clan, while Marawi inhabitants evacuated to nearby places, abandoning their homes and territory and thus losing soooo much more..”


Hopefully, the Mranaos and the rest of the Bangsa Moro have learned their lessons. First, never trust the Philippine government. Second, never trust the so-called representatives of the Bangsa Moro to the Peace Talks, the MILF and the MNLF. They are there for their vested interests. Third, a handful of Mranaos, including a lot of children, can take on the full might of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for 6 months. There’s no telling what an organized Mranao army, or even a Bangsa Moro army can do.

The Rape of Marawi is a game changer. The Mranaos have a long memory. This will never be forgotten.

ML in Marawi



Changing Marawi Narratives

…and no one was left to speak

First they came for the Abu Sayyaf;

          and I did not speak out because I was not an Abu.

Then they came for the allegedly ISIS-linked Maute clan;

          and I did not speak out because I was not a Maute.

Then they came for the Communists / Leftists;

         and I did not speak out because I was not a Commie / Lefty.

Then they came for the poor drug users/dealers;

         and I did not speak out because I was not a poor drug user/dealer.

Then they came for the Yellowtards / Dilawan;

         and I did not speak out because I was not a Yellowtard / Dilawan.

Then they came for me;

        and there was no one left to speak for me.


Give me Liberty or give me Death!


The American colonials still kept hoping that there would be peace in America. But Delegate Patrick Henry knew that the British masters would never give the colonials freedom. In the Second Virginia Convention on March 20, 1775, Mr. Patrick Henry delivered this immortal speech:

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary.

But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year?

Will it be when we are totally disarmed,

and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?

Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?

Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance,

by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope,

until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means

which the God of nature hath placed in our power.

Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty,

and in such a country as that which we possess,

are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.

Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone.

There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations;

and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

Besides, sir, we have no election.

If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest.

There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!

Our chains are forged!

Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!

The war is inevitable²and let it come!

I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter.

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace.

The war is actually begun!

The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!

Our brethren are already in the field!

Why stand we here idle?

What is it that gentlemen wish?

What would they have?

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Forbid it, Almighty God!

I know not what course others may take;

but as for me,

give me liberty or give me death!

PATRICK burning

With the utter destruction of Marawi City, the proposed further extension of Martial Law, the calling up of Filipino reservists to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the exile of police scalawags to Marawi, the issuance of IDs for Muslims only in Central Luzon and the proposed Muslim IDs all over the Philippines, then perhaps the Muslims / Moros of the Philippines should read this speech by Patrick Henry and be inspired by him. Before it’s too late.


The Moros must now really think things over. Minorities decay exponentially.  Their number is being reduced by the day — not only by killings but by poverty. And some members  of the younger generation are being integrated into the Indio-Filipino lifestyle and moral values. Some of them have forgotten or have lost their heritage and cultural values.

They, the Bangsa Moro, should listen well to the words of Patrick Henry:

“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary.

But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year?

Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and

          when a British guard (read: Indio-Filipino) shall be stationed in every house?”

That is exactly what is going on in Marawi. In the land of our forefathers, the Indios reign supreme. They ask for IDs, they frisk and grope our bodies looking for weapons. They enter our homes, loot our properties, … all in the name of protecting the country from Terrorists!

Many of our leaders are quiet and still praying for Peace.

Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?

Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance,

            by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope,

            until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”



The time to decide is NOW.

Liberty or Slavery?!

The choice is ours.




Changing Marawi Narratives

duterte blames maranao

The President has such an idiotic Maute/ISIS narrative. In the first place, nobody let the Mautes in Lanao. They live there. They are real Maranaos not like the President who claims to be a Maranao, too.

Most Moros do not love the Philippines. They have been living under endless tyranny, as one popular book on Moros has for its title. To have an ideology that is pro-Islam and anti-Filipino nationhood is quite common in Mindanao. MILF and MNLF are both pro-Islam and anti-Filipino nationhood, just like the Abu Sayyaf Group, if they have any ideology at all.

How and why the Mautes managed to get a lot of arms and ammunition, without the strict military knowing them is another question. Most probably, he bought those ammo from the military. Didn’t the Oakwood putsch leaders said that the military was selling arms to the Moro groups?

Why did the Mautes need to arm themselves? Could it be because they have personal quarrel with the soldiers in Marawi? It is not easy to have quarrel with soldiers. They had to protect themselves.

Are they ISIS? They want to be. They probably applied, in order to protect themselves from the soldiers. But even during the first day of this Crisis, the military spokesman kept on repeating that there was no ISIS in Mindanao and everything was UNDER CONTROL.

Atty, now Congressman, Harry Roque said in a TV interview, that he was in Russia with the Philippine team when the Marawi Crisis happened. He was in a bar or restaurant with all the Military / Intelligence team of the President before the President had an emergency meeting with them. Cong. Roque said that all these military/intelligence top officials affirmed that there was NO ISIS in the Philippines, and everything was UNDER CONTROL. After the President’s meeting with them, Duterte declared that ISIS attacked Marawi. He then declared Martial Law.

Did the President have information unknown to the top brass of the military and intelligence corps?

With the Martial Law declaration, the Marawi and Lanao provincial officials became inutile, They were powerless. Even if they could fight off the Maute, as one Marawi official claimed, they could not do so because the military might fire on them.

burn marawi

The people of Marawi, fearing that aerial strikes like the one in Butig might be done in Marawi, they ran for lives lives — evacuated Marawi. The Maranaos did not know that they fell right into the Evil Plan of the government.

A group of a dozen or so snipers can very well hold a territory for days on end, esp. if they know the territory much better than the enemy.

And sacrificing its own soldiers, the Philippine government reduced Marawi City to smithereens.

They put up narratives after narratives. The Abu Sayyaf Group led by Hapilon, the old friend of the military, was supposed to have formed an alliance with the Maute family to form ISIS, with Hapilon as the “Amir”.

There’s even a video of Hapilon and the Mautes discussing their plan to attack Marawi. The video was good enough to be a scene from a Pinoy telenovela. But only idiots will believe that terrorists will record on video their plans to attack a city. And of course, that video should be easily discoverable by the military.

And what happened to the old friend of the military, Kumander Hapilon? He was supposed to have left Marawi, and then returned to Marawi. How could he do that when Marawi was and still is under siege by the military? And where is he now?

Oh by the way, by all news accounts on the first day of this crisis, there were just around 50 Maute members in Marawi. Now, there are hundreds of them. Pretty soon, there will be thousands and thousands of them.

Oh, by the way, Mr. Duterte said that he and the Presidential Security Guard saw a group of his relatives on their way to Marawi to help the Mautes. THEY WERE NOT ARRESTED! They even talked to their relative, Mr. President himself!

So, what narrative was that then? Is the President creating the narrative that there are more people coming to Marawi to help the Mautes? But wait, they can only enter Marawi with the consent/ help of the military! Even Marawi officials themselves could not enter Marawi!

The MILF and the Abu Sayyaf had attacked the military before, killed a lot of soldiers, some were even beheaded. But no Moro city was destroyed.

At the start of this Crisis, no one was killed except for one of the Mautes, as claimed by the military. The military through their spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, claimed that they started the conflict with their attempt to arrest Hapilion. The AFP claimed that the Maute gang’s activity was just a “diversion” to distract the military operation against Hapilon.  AFP Chief Gen. Eduardo Año said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines was “in full control of Marawi, adding there are less than 50 Maute members scattered in the city” (from CNN Philippines). (Note: Looks like the page from CNN Philippines has been updated and the quote was removed, probably to agree more with the Philippine government/media narrative. – Editor)

THERE WAS NO LOGICAL REASON TO DESTROY A CITY. There was even no reason to declare Martial Law. A group of 50 thugs, even with high-powered guns, could not be considered rebellion. The Philippines already recognize two legitimate Moro rebel groups, the MNLF and MILF and one Communist rebel group, the CPP/NDF/NPA. And then there’s the kidnap-for-ransom gang, CIA/AFP-created Abu Sayyaf Group.  Why didn’t the Philippine government declared Martial Law when these rebels attacked?


No ‘Eid Celebration in Marawi!

Remember, remember

May to June 2017

Ramadhan 1438

The False flag terror

of treachery and plot

We know of no reason

why Martial Law and

Aerial bombings

should ever be forgot!


Federalism and Other Options

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





The infirmities of the New Organic Law are serious that it must be declared unconstitutional especially the power of control of the National Government over the Regional Government as a Local Government Unit when the constitution grants only the power of supervision over the ARMM.  The Organic Law is ill-considered and violates the fundamental principles of “regional political autonomy”, hence, the need for more powers to be embodied in a proper legislative act or constitutional amendment.

It is imperative that a peaceful political solution be arrived at before the conflagration in Mindanao continues to have negative consequences on the entire country.  On May 22, 2000, Senator Pimentel, together with Senators John H. Osmeña and Francisco S. Tatad, filed a Concurrent Resolution (S. Dt. Res. No. 26) in the Senate calling for a constitutional convention to revise the Constitution by adopting a federal system of government and for other purposes.  On June 14, 2000, the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws chaired by Senator Miriam D. Santiago, conducted an inquiry in aid of legislation or public hearing vis-à-vis S. Ct Res. No. 26.

Sen. Santiago’s committee invited among others this author as Chairman of the Islamic Directorate of the Philippines (IDP) and former Rep. Michael Mastura of Maguindanao to share their respective opinions and expertise on the subject matter at hand.  This author and Rep. Mastura, both agreed that federalism may satisfy the needs of the Bangsa Moro for a greater say in determining and running their own affairs.  At the public hearing, Sen. Santiago announced that their committee would endorse S. Ct. Res. No. 26 before the Senate.  Nothing came out of this move because of EDSA II resulting tin he removal of Estrada from the Presidency.  Today (2003), the change to Federal-Parliamentary form of government is at the core of the debate in Congress whether to do it by Constitutional Convention or Constituent Assembly.  After the Senate vote, it is clear that it will be by Con-Con.  Still the Federal issue is a main question in the Con-Con and Senator Pimentel believes that a  Federal System will be the best political option because it can create a Bangsa Moro state.

The process of revising the Constitution is a long and arduous affair.  First of all, Congress has to pass a bill calling for a constitutional convention (ConCon) which the President has to sign into law.  The said law may have to be submitted to the electorate in a referendum unless it was passed by a two-thirds vote of Congress.  Then, elections for delegates to the Concon would have to be held.  Still, it is a good option for serious political change.  There are new options that may be considered.


The Bangsa Moro supports federalism but only if a truly autonomous Bangsa Moro state or commonwealth government is established first as demanded by the Civil Society of Bangsa Moro and as the MILF also demand.  If the government again tries to cheat the Bangsa Moro by simply expanding the ARMM and not extend to it the basic powers and rights of a federal state, then the conflict would intensify.  In a genuine federal government (such as the United States, for instance), each state or regional government enjoys certain basic powers and rights, such as the following:


  1. The power to draft and implement a state or regional government or provincial (as in Canada and Kosovo) constitution;


  1. The power to enact and execute laws pertinent to the state only;


  1. The power to levy and collect taxes, independent of taxes accruing to the Federal Government;


  1. The power to establish a police force that shall maintain peace and order in the state and protect its citizens from danger and Federal Armed Forces can only intervene if called upon by the state government;


  1. The power to establish and maintain political, judicial, social and industrial structures and organizations for the benefit and welfare of the state and its citizens that conforms to its history, culture, religion and social institutions. These structures/organizations include state government executive offices, legislatures, courts of law, business corporations, social service agencies and the like;


  1. The power to exploit all natural resources and deposits within the state and give a share to the Federal Government through negotiations and formalized in an Agreement;


  1. The right to choose for itself a state flag anthem, motto and the like and use them for whatever legal intent and purpose that it may so desire; and


  1. The right to enjoy such power and privileges that the Federal Government may extend to it and those that are purely local in character.


Considering the urgency of reaching a peaceful political solution to a problem that has troubled the country for decades, the Philippine government may enter into a binding International Agreement establishing a truly autonomous Bangsa Moro state or commonwealth or regional government as soon as possible.  It would be impractical to wait for the ConCon or ConAss to revise the Constitution, as this would take too long.  The Agreement can be considered a treaty and given a constitutional status.  This can be the product of the GRP-MILF negotiations with the participation of OIC countries and the USA.

The GRP can propose to the OIC to mediate with the MNLF and MILF to agree to work-out a new International Agreement under Article X of the Constitution to establish a Bangsa Moro commonwealth or regional government giving it all the powers of a state except foreign affairs and national defense as proposed by former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator John Osmeña.  Even Senator Biazon said that it is all right, as long it will not seek independence.  This is possible under the Resolution 02/30 at Tehran OIC-ICFM, May 28-30, 2003, No. 15 supporting the Agreement of Unity of MNLF and MILF wherein a united delegation attended the Conference. The acceptance of the MILF and MNLF of such an agreement subject to approval by the Bangsa Moro citizens in a Referendum.

The policy conference sponsored by the National Defense College of the Philippines Foundation and the ISIP Foundation of the ROTC UP Vanguard Alumni on April 28, 2000, where this author participated also recommended the establishment of a Bangsa Moro State in the Philippines as in China’s “one Country-Two System” policy.  This was also the day that the war in Narciso Ramos Highway started.  This solution can be the comprehensive, lasting and just solution to the Bangsa Moro struggle.

“The best political solution may be the creation of a Bangsa Moro State or Regional Government comprising of the Muslim provinces and Municipalities by constitutional amendment and call a provisional constituent assembly composed of elected delegates to enact their state or regional constitution and establish the system of government and election of officials.  The State or Regional Government shall be federated to the Philippine Republic.  If the solution is effective, then the other regions of the Philippines can be converted to states and form the Federal Republic of the Philippines.  The second option, is to recommend a referendum by the United Nations with the consent of the GRP to allow the Muslims only to vote for independence or federal state with the Philippines under the “One country, Two systems” proposal.[59]

The Central Policy Issue as previously mentioned involves the present constitutional approach to the Mindanao Question under Article X of the Constitution implemented by the Organic Act for ARMM in compliance with the MNLF-OIC-GRP 1996 Peace Agreement.  The New Organic Act passed by Congress lost because in the 9 provinces and 9 cities where the plebiscite was held, the majority of Christian voters definitely rejected the New Organic Act.  Therefore, the present constitution cannot solve the impasse in the political solution for Muslim Mindanao.  Art. X of the Constitution also involves the establishment of the Autonomous Regional government for the Cordillera but it has also failed.

The proposal to establish a Bangsa Moro State or Islamic Regional Government within the Philippine Republic should consider the “Four Dimensions of National Security i.e. political, socio-cultural, economic, governance and military.  “National Security” is defined “as state or condition wherein the people’s way of life, institutions, their integrity and sovereignty, including their well-being are protected and enhanced.”  It was proposed that the concept must be changed because the Filipinos are not only one people but many peoples’ because of our ethnic nations like the Ilocano, Ilongo, Cebuano, Cordillera, Maranao, Maguindanao nations and also as religious communities – Christian Filipinos and Bangsa Moro Muslim people.  It was also proposed that national security must not concentrate on sovereignty and territory because the AFP is the protector of all the peoples’ and therefore the well-being of all the peoples’ must be fully implemented to insure religious, ethnic and communal peace, security and happiness.  The new concept should read, “National Security as a state or condition wherein the peoples’ way of lives, institutions, their integrity and sovereignty, including their well-being are protected, enhanced, and fully implemented to insure religious, ethnic and communal peace, security and happiness.”[60]



In the “Constitutional Accommodation of a Bangsa Moro Islamic Region” written by Soliman Santos, Jr., 2003, he states that:

“A rethinking of constitutionalism and sovereignty should lead to key mutual compromises, as we said, on national sovereignty but not territorial integrity on the part of the GRP and on independent statehood but not Islamic system on the part of the MILF.  Then, informed by comparative and international law and practice and by Mindanao’s tri-people character, we can create a constitutional structure or space that we might call a Bangsa Moro Islamic Region (BI’R, from the Arabic work BI’R for well of water) within the Republic of the Philippines.  What follows is a brief description which could also be the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment (with which there is no needs to even touch the rest of the Constitution):[61]


“There shall be created a special Islamic region to meet the aspiration for a system of life and governance suitable and acceptable to the Bangsa Moro people who opt for it.  This region shall exercise maximum autonomy with independent legislative, executive and judicial powers under an Islamic system, as the Philippine constitutional system shall not be practiced there.  This region shall be established pursuant to a peace agreement which shall have constitutional status as defining, among others, the relations of constitutional association between the region and the Bangsa Moro people, on one hand, and the Republic and the Filipino people, on the other hand.  “The constitutional arrangements shall include personal or cultural autonomy for Moros outside the region, and guarantees for the protection of human rights.


“Among the special considerations for this constitutional arrangement are upholding national unity and territorial integrity, securing the blessings of cultural diversity and lasting peace, and taking account of the history and realities of Mindanao.[62]


Atty. Santos emphasized that the BI’R will be governed in accordance with Islam even if it is not called a state or independent.  He enumerated the features such as the following:


  1. “The BI’R would have a very high degree of autonomy, except for national defense, foreign affairs and possibly currency. The governing law in this highly autonomous Islamic region would be shari’ah to the fullest possible extent.  The Qur’an, as the first primary source of shari’ah, would be the real constitution of the BI’R.  The Qur’anic blueprint covers all aspects of a whole way of life but Islamic governance is the most crucial aspect of an Islamic system.


  1. “In addition to the human rights regime under the shari’ah, including the status of the dhimmis (non-Muslim minorities), the initial common ground of commitment to protect and respect human rights in accordance with the UN Charter’s principles and the UDHR should be carried through and eventually cover other international human rights standards, ideally with a unified approach to human rights which covers both individual and collective rights.


  1. “Aside from common terms of reference which should include human rights and other generally accepted principles of international law, and aside from mechanisms for dispute resolution in cases of conflict of laws and jurisdiction, the constitutional negotiations should also determine relations of interdependency, cooperation and even protection between the BI’R and the RP. A highly autonomous Islamic system need not be an enclave unto itself within the Philippine polity.  A fair interaction is still the best policy for mutual benefit from cultural diversity. (Numbering Supplied).[63]


Atty. Santos also prefers the BI’R to a Federal State according to his concept of Autonomy or self-rule.  He explains:


  1. “The BI’R can be established whether the Philippines remain unitary or go federal. Be that as it may, autonomy has certain advantages compared to federalism.  Basically, autonomy is more purposively addressed to the particularities of an ethno-cultural region, including serving as a conflict-solving mechanism, while federalism applies across the whole country as a national structure – which makes it really another debate.


  1. “Autonomy is, therefore, more flexible, with a wide range of options from minimum to maximum, up to just short of full independence. It can also assume a personal nature, as in personal or cultural autonomy, while federalism is always territorial and functional.  Autonomy’s flexibility also extends to the instruments of creation such as a constitution, statute, treaty or a combination of these, while federalism is usually created only by a constitution.” This definition of Autonomy which empowers the Region of state powers short of Independence can still hold for a Bangsa Moro state in a Federal government or as a free associated state with the Philippines as discussed in the next option.[64]



Atty. Mohammad Musib Buat, Chairman of the MILF Legal Technical Committee and Spokesman of the MILF Panel in a paper delivered before the 1st Summit of Muslim Leaders held last April 24, 2003, on the question of Bangsa Moro Independent State, declared:

“Why not?  The Sultanate of Sulu and the Mindanao principalities were deemed protectorates of the United States of America under the Kiram –Bates Treaty of August 20, 1899.  Regrettably, the US President unilaterally abrogated the said treaty in 1904 thereby prompting protest from the Sultan of Sulu.  The abrogation of the Kiram – Bates treaty by the US according to some legal scholars had the effect of restoring to the Sulu de jure sovereignty over the Sulu dominion and its dependencies.

“The restoration of the Bangsa Moro sovereign statehood is well supported by historical records.  It has historical and legal bases under the so-called Moro treaties.  While the Philippine state makes use of the Moro treaties for its claim over Sabah, it denies any historical right to the Bangsa Moro people its claim for statehood over its ancestral territories or homeland.  Far more ironic is the fact that while the Treaty of Paris of 1898 disregarded Philippine Independence under the Malolos Constitution, it was used by independent Philippines to justify its illegal inclusion of the Bangsa Moro territories in the Philippine national territory.

“On the other hand, the restoration of the date of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 reaffirms President Emilio Aguinaldo’s recognition of Bangsa Moro sovereign status at the time the first Philippine Republic was proclaimed.  As an unincorporated territory of the United States of America, the Bangsa Moro people could well fall under the decolonization principle of the United Nations as a colonized people or nation.[65]



In a paper entitled Referendum for Independence or Autonomy: Framework for a Peaceful and Permanent Solution to the Moro Problem presented during the Peace Consultative meeting at Iligan City in 1999, Professors Manaros B. Boransing and Luis O. Lacar of the Mindanao State University (MSU) justified the gains to be achieved by granting independence to the Bangsa Moro people similar to the one given by Malaysia to Singapore, Namibia by South Africa to East Timor by Indonesia and also to Eretrea by Ethiopia as compared to the continuing violence and war between Chechenya and Russia, Kashmir and India, Amilnado and Sri Lanka and others.

Should the Bangsa Moro people gain independence through a UN sponsored referendum, then Bangsa Moro will become an independent state and it must fend for its self and use its independence to attain the legitimate aspirations of its people.  The kind of state that will be established is not yet certain. It could be Islamic or secular or a mix, or it would be a western democracy model or an Asian democratic state.  However, there will be definite gains for the Philippine Republic.

 “On the other hand, the gains for the Philippine government are easily identifiable and quantifiable. The great bulk of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan or (4/5) of the area is already owned and occupied by the Christian migrants and Lumads.  The Bangsa Moro dominated areas constitute only about a fifth of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan; allowing this area to separate would have no material impact on the Nation’s economy.  In addition, the Annual National government subsidy to Muslim Mindanao amounts to billions of pesos; specifically the IRA for LGU’s and the yearly budget for the ARMM, MSUS and the Office of Muslim Affairs, etc.  The financial subsidy would also include the annual budgetary allocations for National government Agencies with operating units in Muslim Mindanao, like DPWH, DA, DAR, etc.  The annual government expenditure for Muslim dominated areas, including those spent by the AFP and the PNP; would roughly add up to about P50 billion annually.  All of these billions would be saved and used for the socio-economic development of the remaining regions in the Philippines.”[66]



In the letter of Chairman Hashim Salamat of the MILF on January 20, 2003 to US President George W. Bush, he explained the MILF position:

“On December 14, 1960, the United nations General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples under resolution 1514 (XV).  Also in 1960, the UN General Assembly approved resolution 1541, defining free association with an Independent State, integration into an independent State, or independence as the three legitimate options offering full-self-government.[67]

Atty. Buat also presented the option of a Free Associated State by ASIM in his paper:

“Under the first option, Gilles Fireagle proposed an Associated Free State of Mindanao (ASIM) (Philippine Star, June 13, 2002).  Initially, he proposes that the Republic of the Philippines will give up sovereignty over the islands of Tawi-tawi, Sulu and Basilan.  The inhabitants of these islands will be free to create their won country.  The only limitation is that the new country will have to be associated with the Republic of the Philippines.  It will be self-governing in all respects, except that it cannot declare was against the Philippines.  The Free State of Mindanao as conceptualized will exist for 15 years.  On its 16th year, it must conduct a referendum among its citizens on whether or not to continue as an associated free state or return to the folds of the Republic.

At the same time, a referendum will also be held, open to all administrative/political units, including the ARMM to determine whether other Philippine provinces and/or cities would decide to join the said free state.  Should 50 percent or more elect to join the Free State, then the new state will become an independent nation.  This option may not be acceptable to the Bangsa Moro because it divides the people and their historic homeland.  The leadership of MILF is also based in Central Mindanao.  ARMM will not agree to be so divided because only Lanao del Sur, Marawi City and Maguindanao will remain in the ARMM for 15 years.  The proposal is unconstitutional because the Organic law is based in Article X of the constitution.

There are many models of a free state association.  An early model of association is that of the North American Indians who were considered dependent nations under treaty relations with the US Federal Government.  Based on American Jurisprudence, “the settled doctrine of law of nations (e.g., the Cherokee Nation) is that a weaker power does not surrender its independence – its right to self-government, by associating with the stronger and taking its protection (through a treaty).[68]

The Treaty of 1878 between Spain and the Sultanate of Sulu recognized the Sulu realm as a protectorate rather than as a territorial possession of Spanish colonial administration.  This was officially adopted as a policy by the United States of America in the Instruction of President William Mckinly to the First  Philippine Commission of 1900.  Thus, the Congress of the United States regarded the Moro Nation as dependent nation similar to the North American Indians under treaty relations with the US Federal Government.  The Treaty entered into between Sultan Jamalul Kiram II of Sulu and General John C. Bates of the United States Army confirmed the protectorate status of the Sulu Sultanate under the Spanish Treaty of 1878.

The most familiar model known to Filipinos was the former Commonwealth of the Philippines.  Other examples are the Estado Libre Associado de Puerto Rico, the British Commonwealth countries of Australia, New Zealand and Canada.  The more recent trust territories of the Pacific islands that became self-governing in free state association with USA in 1990 are the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.  Another Pacific Island, Palau became fully self-governing in free association with the USA in 1994.

The Associated Free State can only be established by Treaty or International Agreement between the GRP and the MILF supported by the MNLF and submitted to the Bangsa Moro voters in a Referendum with UN supervision.  This option can accommodate the powers under the BI’R concept and a Federal state concept.  What can emerge maybe a system like that in the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro, both independent states and Kosovo a non-independent state but part of the Federation or the one between Puerto Rico and USA.[69]

In the document entitled, “Declaration of Intent and Manifestation of Direct Political Act” issued by the Bangsa Moro Organizations under the umbrella of the Bangsa Moro Consultative Assembly gathered almost a million signatures and submitted to the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers of the OIC.  The document was dated August 16, 2000.   The document stated:

“We hold these to be the true relationships between the Bangsamoro People and the Filipino People at large:


  • That the concept of “protectorate” rather than “territorial possession” was adopted officially by the United States Government in the Instructions of President McKinley to the first Philippine Commission of 1900. The course taken by the US Congress in regard to the Moro population resembled initially that of the Indian tribes as “dependent nations” until the unilateral abrogation of the Bates Treaty of 1904 that was premised on other matters than “the de jure sovereignty of the Sultan.”


  • That an operative clause in the Treaty of Paris of 1898 was that “the civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territory Spain ceded to the United States” was to be determined by Congress. Not only that the Philippine commission did not completely concede to the Christian Filipinos the right to govern the Moro population but that considerable autonomy was granted in a separate structure for the Moro Province until 1913.


  • That the governance of the Moro population and other indigenous inhabitants under the Moro province in Mindanao and Mountain Province in Luzon was defined as “territorial periods” between 1904 and 1914 until the US congress had finally determined the fate of the Philippine Islands. The unilateral abrogation of the Bates Treaty of 1904 that was superseded by the Kiram-Carpenter Agreement of 1915 was shrouded by unresolved controversy, with reservation in giving consent to the disposition of any territorial possession of the Sultanate.



“In the course of thirty-year transitory period from 1916 to the final grant of Philippine Independence in 1946 by the United States Government, the Moro population and their leaders did not fully relinquish their right to self-determination.  Nor had they given up their common identity.  With intent and purpose they never waived their political will but adhered repeatedly to the maxim “no domination of one element over another.”  So we seek open, direct democratic justification as such:

 “As the direct political act of association formed that of a body politic so those who were associated with it take collectively the name of people i.e. nation.

 “As the exercise of civil rights formed that of a citizen action so those who participated in the political life of the nation share in the power of the sovereign i.e. government.

 As the indigenous ancestry of claims formed that of a homeland so those who occupied it in the name of the bangsa institute the ancestral domain i.e. territory

“Considering, at first, that the Bangsamoro People attempted to reconcile with the idea of a new Government of Mindanao, they were gradually integrated as minorities into the national body politic.  Yet the units of political power and governance have not necessarily guaranteed them political justice.

“And thus we hereby reiterate the continuous, consistent and collective Bangsamoro people’s opposition to their unjust annexation into the Philippine national territory and their statutory incorporation without plebiscitary consent on their part.  These major assertions of civil rights are fully documented:


  1. The Cotabato Memorial of Datus and Persons dated September 30, 1916.  Said document acknowledges the benefits of the establishment of the new Government of Mindanao, including the right “to perform part of the work of the Government” and “to take part in the making of laws for us.”


  1. The Petition of the People of Sulu Archipelago dated June 9, 1921. Said document assails the failure of the Philippine Legislature to pass laws for the Moro people’s benefits, citing instances of inadequacy of appropriations, diversion of infrastructure programs, abuses of the constabulary, failure to give justice and equity, and failure to maintain law and order.


Complaints that the executive acts of Filipinization has made Mindanao merely the “dumping ground” for undesirables of Luzon and the Visayas such as abusive police officers coupled with excessive militarization still prevail as instruments of neo-colonial domination.


“Recalling, once more, that the Bangsamoro People moved to propose alternative solutions to the “Moro Question” when it became a pivotal issue to the grant of Philippine Independence.  Fully documented are the following petitions for redress:


  1. The Zamboanga Declaration of Rights and Purposes dated February 1, 1924. Said document petitions the US Congress that 50 years after independence may have been granted to the rest of the Philippines, a plebiscite be held in “the proposed unorganized territory” consisting of the islands of Mindanao and Sulu and the island of Palawan.


“To decide by vote whether the proposed territory will be incorporated in the government of the Islands of Luzon and Visayas, remain a territory, or become independent.”


  1. The Dansalan Declaration in Protest of Moro Inclusion in Philippine Independence dated March 18, 1935. Said document cites the discriminatory act of Christian Filipinos in that in the Constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth “no provision whatsoever is made that would operate for the welfare of the Moros.”  In the event the American people decide –


“To grant the Philippine independence, the islands of Mindanao and Sulu should not be included in such independence.”


“We do reaffirm the intendment of these declarations for which reason we appeal to the President of the United States and the US Congress to correct the injustice done and/or to rectify it by legitimate means such as a resolution for referendum on the Moro Question under UN supervision.”[70]

In another document signed by Muslim Organizations entitled “Janji O Ra’yat Bangsamoro” (Covenant of the Bangsamoro People dated July 15, 2000) also submitted to the OIC, stated:

“Preliminary Statement


“The Bangsamoro People profoundly acknowledges, the great and unselfish efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in pursuing the support of the Muslim World to the BANGSAMORO PEOPLE’S EPIC STRUGGLE FOR THE RIGHT OF SELF DETERMINATION as an ancient nation existing before the coming of Islam to the Malay people’s and known in the Chinese chronicles as MIN-TO-LANG and ZULO and in the Ortelius Map of New Asia in 1570 as Mindanao, Pahlawan and Zulo long before there was a Philippines, Luzon or Visayas.  Mindanao was also called MALUKU BESAR – The Land of Great Kings.  Our ancestors accepted ISLAM freely without conquest and STRUGGLED FOR ISLAM (AGAMA), HOMELAND (HU’LA’/INGUD) AND FREEDOM (MARADIKA/MAHARDIKA) for over four centuries against Spain, America and Japan in their attempts on Christianization and colonization as well as the commonwealth and later the Republic of the Philippines for accepting alien and foreign rule and dictation and systematic GENOCIDAL CAMPAIGNS AGAINST THE BANGSAMORO PEOPLE resulting in the loss of over 605 of the historic Homeland in MINDANAO, SULU, TAWI-TAWI, BASILAN AND PALAWAN AND REDUCED THE BANGSAMORO PEOLE TO A MINORITY STATUS EVEN IN THE SZOPAD AREAS COVERING THE AREA OF AUTONOMY UNDER THE TRIPOLI AGREEMENT OF 1976 thus making it imperative on all Muslims of Bangsamoro to re-establish ‘PARENTA ISLAMI” (ISLAMIC GOVERNANCE) in our historic territories of the Bangsamoro Sultanates.


“Also considering, that the MNLF urged the OIC 27th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 27th June to 29th June, 2000 to seriously investigate the failures of the government to comply faithfully and conscientiously with binding international commitments and obligations to the OIC and MNLF under the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 sanctioned by the Senate of the Philippines in Resolution No. 50, August 22, 1996 and send a Fact-Finding Mission to establish whether the government will honor or not its obligations under the Peace Agreement by November 2000 to be submitted to the Islamic Summit of Heads of States and Governments, and if, the GRP shall continue to refuse to comply with its obligations, then OIC should accept the Bangsamoro as a member of OIC and the MNLF as the sole legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people as an umbrella organization form the National Front (Barisan Nacional) with all sectors of the our society to promulgate a state constitution in accordance with Islam and International Law and Practice based on the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights and Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, particularly:


“Article I – All peoples have the right to self-determination by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”


“And in the Final Peace Agreement of 1996, GRP recognized this Right of Self-Determination, stating:


“WHEREAS, the MNLF, led by Professor Nur Misuari, inspired by their guest for peace and prosperity and had in the past asserted the right of the Moro people to freely determine their political status and pursue their religious, determine their political status and pursue their religious, social, economic and cultural development.”


“Considering further, that the MILF leadership believes that it is to the national interest of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro that a solution to separate a Bangsamoro Islamic State be submitted to a REFERENDUM supervised by the United Nations on the issue of INDEPENDENCE OR FEDERAL STATE OR AUTONOMOUS REGION based on historical precedents such as:


  • As Malaysia allowed the separation of Singapore
  • As Indonesia allowed the independence of East Timor
  • As Yugoslavia allowed the separation of Eritrea
  • As Ethiopia allowed the separation of Eritrea
  • As USSR dissolving itself and gave birth to several independent states, including five Muslim states
  • As Israel has agreed to the establishment of the Palestinian authority that may lead to the Palestinian state.


Realizing, that the MNLF and MILF positions can be reconciled under a process wherein the MNLF will exert its best efforts with OIC to make the GRP comply fully with the Peace Agreement only up to November 2000 otherwise it will now apply as a Bangsamoro State as member of the OIC and establish a national Front with all Moro Fronts, Forces and Organizations which principally refers to the MILF while the MILF is seeking GRP compliance with existing agreements which have been torn to pieces by the artillery and bombs of the military and seeks for the UN REFERENDUM for Self Determination on Independence or Federal State or Regional Autonomy by espousing UNITY OF THE MNLF and MILF and the whole Bangsamoro leadership and petition to OIC to bring to the UN the issue of REFERENDUM for the Bangsamoro people to decide their political status as Fr. Dr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. as one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution wrote:

 “In all of these, moreover, self-determination has never been limited to independence.  The heart of the right is the freedom to choose.  Thus, for instance while Puerto Rico has chosen to remain with the United States, East Timor, when given the choice, opted for independence. 

 “… Although there is no legal authority for secession, there is no obligation on the part of the minorities to stay with states, which oppress them if they succeed in seceding and in establishing themselves as new state, international recognition will folow.”[71]

The matter of “dismemberment of the country” has been questioned since the Bangsa Moro Homeland as declared by Bangsa Moro Consultative Assembly and many Muslim Organizations as well as the MNLF and MILF, was never legally a part of the Philippines.  When Spain sold the country to the United State (US) in 1898, the Bangsa Moro country was independent from Spain and, therefore, it could not have been included in the said sale as claimed by the Moro Sultans and leaders then.  The US occupied the Bangsa Moro states by force and created colonies by resettling Filipinos in Mindanao in lands owned by the Moros.  This was the same form of settler colonization in the Americas, Africa, Australia, New Zealand which has been historically condemned and these countries are making the reparations and restitutions to the colonized peoples.
The Filipinos were given land in Mindanao and Palawan stolen from the Moros and the Lumads.  This was illegal annexation because foreign occupation is only valid to acquire sovereignty if the land is terra nullus or there is no organized society or even tribal sovereignty as decided by the International Court of Justice in the case of Western Sahara vs. Spain, Morocco and Mauritania 1975.  The ICJ held that tribal societies even of nomadic communities has sovereignty and its independence must be recognized under international law.  This is the legal basis why the American Indians, the Canadian Tribes, Australian aborigines and New Zealand indigenous peoples were all compensated in billions of dollars and new treaties and laws were enacted to enforce these binding international obligations.

The Bangsa Moro sultanates preceded the Philippines State by at least 500 years recognized as states by China, Indonesia, Brunei, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires.  They were part of the constellation of Malay-Indonesian, Bornean Kingdoms and later Sultanates which existed during the eras of the Sri-Vijaya and Majapahit Empires before the coming of Islam. The civilization of the Bangsa Moro is at least a thousand years and they have persevered for half a millennium in fighting for the Freedom, Homeland and Islam.  In ASEAN, Moros can claim to be the uncolonized Malay Muslims because Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei were victims of European colonization.  Dean S. Worcester, Secretary of Interior during the US occupation of Mindanao, “wrote that among the Malay race, it is the Bangsamoro that has attained unaided the highest state of civilization in their Sultanic system.”[72]

The Spaniards failed and US partially succeeded and annexed the Bangsa Moro Sultanates to the Philippines under the illegal treaty of Paris that also liquidated the Philippine revolutionary Government of 1896.  ARMM Regional Governor Dr. Parouk Hussin pointed out that the “Conflicting Histories” must be understood so Bangsa Moro aspirations can be repeated.

“The history of the Philippine Muslims is part of the backbone of the historical development of the whole country.  Filipino historians like Renato Constantino asserted that no Philippine history would be complete without a study of Muslim development.  But it is the victors, a popular adage reminds us, who write history.  And as such, even in history, the Moros have been marginalized.  The problem here lies in the diverse and numerous historical developments, and, consequently, the different identities that were formed by these events.  So different, in fact, that to Christian Filipinos, Moro history and identity is but marginally noted in the history of their nation.  Similarly, Moros never considered themselves as integral to the Philippine nation-state.

The Philippine has, in fact, two lines of political and historical developments.  The first line, which is the older, came to develop in Mindanao and Sulu.  And this refers to the Muslim line of historical development.  Had not this line been disturbed by western colonialism, Islam might have charted the entire destiny of the Philippine nationhood.  On the other hand, external factors swept into the country to bring the second line.  This is the product of the great historical experiences of the Filipino people under western rule.  It is this diverse historical trajectory that inflames the animosity between the Philippine government and the Moro people.  Obliterating one contesting parties would have to find a way to respect each other’s identities and history, to agree to compromise and meet each other half-way in the true spirit of brotherhood and fraternity.”[73]

When the Americans contemplated granting independence to the Philippines, more than a million Moros of Mindanao and Sulu led by Sultan Mangigin, Hadji Panglima Nuno, Datu Sacaluran, Maharajah Habing, Abdullah Piang and Datu Benito sent a petition to the US congress on February 1, 1924.  The petition read, in part thus:


“… In the event that the United States grants independence to the Philippine Islands… it is our firm intention and resolve to declare ourselves an independent Constitutional sultanate to be known to the world as Moro Nation…”

 This declaration was followed by the Dansalan declaration of 1935 of the same import and held at the Torogan Dayawam Sultanate of which this author was the Sultan for several years and where my family resides.

The Bangsa Moro Civil Society feels that the government should negotiate with the Bangsa Moro with full recognition of their right of self-determination after almost 100 years of US and then Filipino exploitation and oppression of the Bangsa Moro people. The Filipinos should be “Christians” enough to allow the Bangsa Moro to exercise its rights to chart its own destiny in accordance with international law.  The Filipinos, confident in their strength in numbers and their superior fire power, would fight “toe-and-nail” to keep the Bangsa Moro Homeland within the republic.  But Yugoslavia is a lesson that despite its military victory against the seceding states, it lost politically and President Milosovich is under indictment by the International Criminal Court at the Hague.  Learn from Malaysia when it allowed Singapore to be an independent state rather than have political turmoil in Malaysia.  Now both countries are the most successful in ASEAN.

The exercise of the right of self-determination does not necessarily mean secession but may be an option for a self-governing but federated Bangsa Moro State or one associated with the Philippines as in the Confederation of Independent States in the former USSR like Puerto Rico and US or a Free Associated state.  There could be common security agreements, coordination in foreign policy, common market arrangements, and this can be discussed and settled peacefully, without bullets but through a peaceful and democratic referendum wherein the Bangsa Moro people will be asked to determine their political status by remaining within the Philippines as in the case of Puerto Rico and Quebec because the exercise of the right of self-determination does not mean independence automatically as in case of East Timor and Eritrea, or Singapore.

The political debate that must be resolve by the reasonable democratic debates and through the ballots.  The GRP should not show lack of confidence in its ability to have its option prevail in the said referendum.  It will be like an election but it will finally settle the issue of independence with the acceptance of all parties; GRP, MNLF, MILF, OIC, the Filipino people and the Bangsa Moro people.  Whatever will be the democratic outcome will be the best interest of all parties and the Bangsa Moro will no longer be a burden to the Bansang Pilipino or be an obstacle to building a strong nation for the Pilipino and also a strong nation for the Bangsa Moro.  They can be parts of a Federal System like the Federal State of Serbia and Montenegro and the Province of Kosovo.


Many people, both Muslims and Christians have already died in the war in Mindanao and more may still die.  It is important to bear in mind that a solution will only be effective so long as the parties involved accept the said solution.  Therefore, the Bangsa Moro must be consulted first before the government undertakes any action.  The Bangsa Moro must be presented with a number of alternatives to choose from.  It would not be judicious to try to force the Bangsa Moro to accept a particular solution.  To do so would be to invite more trouble and that would be something not devoutly to be wished for.

The MILF and other Bangsa Moro NGO’s advocate referendum with UN and OIC participation may be called wherein the Bangsa Moro would be asked to choose one (1) among four (4) possible alternatives as already explained above. The Independence alternative is, undoubtedly, anathema to the government but if it is what the Bangsa Moro wants, then the government must accept the latter’s decision. This is what happened to end the decades of  war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and between Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Hersegovina.  The Bangsa Moro enjoys the inalienable right of self-determination.  This right is upheld in the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political rights and Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations (UN) as already quoted.

The MILF contend that as a member in good standing of the UN, the Philippines is obliged to recognize and respect the Bangsa Moro’s right to self-determination.  The government recognized East Timor’s tight to secede from Indonesia as East Timor’s right to self-determination.  Then the government cannot deny the Bangsa Moro its right to freely determine its destiny.  If the Bangsa Moro desires independence from the Philippines, then the latter has to accept the Bangsa Moro’s decision in a free and democratic manner.  The essence of the right of self-determination is the right to choose or decide the political status of a people.  Fr. Joaquin Bernas, President of Ateneo de Manila University and one of the members of the Concon of 1987 has so opined as demonstrated in the cases of Puerto Rico and Quebec wherein the electorate rejected independence.  He even recognized the right to secede by an oppressed minority.  This is also the jurisprudence in International Law.

“In all of this, more over, self-determination has never been limited to independence.  The heart of the right is the freedom to choose, thus, for instance while Puerto Rico has chosen to remain with the United States, East Timor, when given the choice, opted for independence.

“This, however, still leaves us with the question of which “people have the right of self-determination.  Is the right possessed by the people as a whole in a given states or do minorities in the state have the right of self-determination?  Again Higgins says that “the desire for secession of certain groups… will be at its most intense when their human rights are being suppressed.  Just as the desire of individuals to leave their country is strongest when their rights have been violated, so the desire of ethnic groups to break away is most noticeable when they are oppressed.”  Do minorities, therefore, have the right to secede?

“The prevailing doctrine on territorial integrity prevents a categorical positive answer to the question.  What international integrity prevents a categorical positive answer to the question.  What international law does guarantee is protection of minority rights.  As Article 27 of the Covenant on civil and Political rights says: “In those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of the group to enjoy their own religion and to use their own language.

This, however, does not mean that new boundaries can never be recognized.  Although there is no legal authority for secession, there is no obligation on the part of minorities to stay with states, which oppress them if they succeed in seceding and in establishing themselves as a new state, international recognition will follow.

“I suggest that these developments are very relevant and should be considered in our search for a solution to the Mindanao question.”[74]


In the Peace Consultative meeting held at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel, Isla Ballroom, Mandaluyong City on September 28, 2000 sponsored by the Negotiation Panel for the Peace Talks with the Southern Philippines Autonomous Groups attended by almost a hundred participants from the National Security Adviser to active military officers, members of the negotiating panels, Muslim government and civil society leaders, as well as Filipino leaders concerned with the Mindanao situation came up with the following consensus:

“That the Mindanao problem has many dimensions to wit,




Socio-economic Cultural


The Conference agreed that the Mindanao problem must address the  following priorities:

  1. Historical, Islamic aspirations of the Bangsa Moro people and historical aspirations of the Indigenous peoples as recognized by the Philippine Constitution, International Laws and Covenants.

Respect for the historical, legal, cultural and religious rights of the tri-peoples of Mindanao.

  1. Political restructuring which may include:

 Federal Parliamentary system or

UN referendum on statehood and independence

       3. Adoption by the GRP of a ceasefire policy, whether unilateral or negotiated.


  1. Recognition that the only viable solution is a peaceful, negotiated, political settlement.


  1. Rejection of any military solution by all parties involved.


  1. Pursuit of a process towards peace and development which must be popular, participatory and inclusive of all sectors, to be led by the Mindanaoans.


  1. Integration/inclusion of the peace component in the development programs of the government.


  1. Full and effective implementation of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement.


  1. Undertaking by the national leadership of actions that would ensure that all military actions in Mindanao should/must respect the constitutionally protected human rights as well as other laws and international agreements and pursue criminal elements without quarters.


  1. For President Joseph Ejercito Estrada to lead a nationwide media campaign with the churches and Islamic Groups, Business Sector, women’s Sector, and other peace advocates in the Philippines to eradicate the anti-Muslim prejudices by the media.”[75]


Unfortunately, then President Estrada refused to consider any of these prescriptions for peace.  He, instead, launched an all-out war against the MILF and tried to oust Misuari as ARMM Regional Governor.



In the past few months there have been two important developments among the Bangsa Moro Muslim Leaders, namely, The 1st Mindanao Political Forum on March 11, 2003 held in Davao City, second, the 1st Summit of Peace, Unity and Development sponsored by the Philippine Muslim Leaders Forum held at Midtown Hotel, Manila.

The Davao Conference was convened by Gov. Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat Province and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City from the authority of the President because of the bombing of the Davao City International Airport on March 4, 2003 using C4 explosives.  A Communique was issued by the elected Muslim Leaders as well as those from the civil society and the civil service.  The leaders appealed to the President to consider the resumption of the negotiations with the MILF and evaluate the following measures:

“4.     The majority of the delegates believe that in view of the turmoil in Muslim Mindanao in particular, and Mindanao as a whole in general, it is imperative that Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, issue immediately a “policy for peace and not war in Mindanao”  and provide as the framework for implementation all agreements between the MILF and the GRP to attain a comprehensive peace that will bring sustainable development that must benefit the Bangsa Moro masses and not only a select few.

“5.1   Separation of forces of the AFP and the MILF under the supervision of the Coordinating Council for Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) with monitors from Malaysia, OIC or even the United States of America.

“5.2   Immediate relief and rehabilitation of the refugees and war damaged areas in accordance with MILF-GRP agreement and there is already the Bangsa Moro Development Agency.

“5.3   Establishment of a Joint Task Force of AFP-PNP-MILF and representatives of the Muslim Governors and Mayors to pursue criminals in accordance with law and due process.

“5.4   Diplomatic demarches between the GRP, Malaysia and OIC to “restore negotiation between the MILF and the GRP” after achieving the First Three points to pursue the political solution to the conflict for only peaceful solution can succeed.

“5.5   The full implementation of an agreed socio-economic programs agreed to by the ARMM, the Muslim provinces, cities and municipalities outside the ARMM to be funded from national sources, international grants, soft loans and donations and waqf (endowment) from Islamic countries for the improvement of the quality of life and sustainable development of the Bangsa Moro people under the direction of the Muslim Leadership.”[76]

They presented this Communiqué to President Arroyo on March 13, 2003 at Malacañang Palace in the presence of her Cabinet Secretaries, Angelo Reyes, Eduardo Ermita, Simeon Datumanong, Jose Lina, Alberto Romulo and Jess Dureza.  The Muslim leaders were led Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin as Chairman and Governor Pax Mangudadatu as convenor.  The author was the Chairman of the Plenary Session and signed the Communiqué.  The President read the entire Communique consisting of 11 pages and she declared after some discussions for almost an hour that she is for peace and gave instructions to the Cabinet Secretaries on that matter.  On March 17, she issued a memorandum to Secretary Reyes of DND to order all field officers to consider impact or violations of human rights before they conduct operations.  This was definitely an assertion of the President as her powers as Commander-in-Chief and the exploratory talks between the MILF and the GRP was conducted in Kuala Lumpur.

On March 28, a Joint Statement was signed between the MILF and the GRP panels at Kuala Lumpur which was welcomed by the Bangsa Moro people and the civil society as a milestone for peace.  The Bangsa Moro leaders were hopeful that this agreement will be implemented because a new member of the GRP panel was appointed in the person of DND Usec. Gen. Antonio C. Santos (Ret.).  The technical committees of both panels were scheduled to meet in Davao City 2003 but the bombing of Sasa Wharf again derailed the implementations of the agreements and more violence erupted between the MILF and the AFP.

The Philippine Muslim Leaders Forum issued also a Communique on April 24, 2003 and submitted it to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who graciously attended the First Summit of Muslim Leaders and inducted the members of the National Executive Committee.  The Communiqué related the brief history of the Bangsa Moro Struggle for Federalism or Independence in the 1960’s up to the armed struggle under Martial Law, as well as agreements between the MNLF-GRP and the MILF-GRP.  The Summit declared that, “It is a matter of Islamic duty and patriotism that all citizens and leaders will not only give lip service to the peace process and be mere onlookers to senseless violence that has been going on for decades, and agreements between GRP and MNLF remains to be fully implemented to benefit all the Muslims and the agreements with MILF remains to be enforced to end the armed conflict between the parties since it is causing the refugee population to rise above 300,000 persons.  The fighting must stop and the agreements must be enforced and no sabotage like unsolved bombings be allowed to derail said agreement.  We all fully support the peace process but it must be effective, sincere and immediate.”[77]  This statement was directed at the suspicious bombings at the Sasa Wharf just like the bombing at the Davao Airport and also to the MILF attack killing civilians in Maigo, Lanao del Norte.

The Communique also appealed to “the President to consider the dropping of the charges against Nur Misuari of the MNLF and Salamat Hashim with the leaders of the MILF” and instruct “the Secretary of Justice to recommend legal and just solutions to this problem to advance the cause of peace.”[78]  The Communiqué also stated on the issue on Balikatan 03-1 that there was no consensus between the Sulu Mayors and Governor and the Sulu Civil Society and recommended consultation with the people and their views must be brought to the attention of the US government.  This Communique was signed by Congressman Gerry Salapuddin, Deputy Speaker for Mindanao of the House of Representatives, Chairman of the Executive Committee; Secretary Simeon Datumanong and Regional Governor Parouk Hussin, Co-Chairman and certified by this author in his capacity as Secretary. The Bangsa Moro leaders are unanimous in their support for a peaceful settlement of the Bangsa Moro conflict because this state of war in the Bangsa Moro areas will only bring more complicated and intractable problems that will push the use of violence as the primary instrument of both parties to win in the armed conflict.

In a recent study entitled the “Re-imagination of the Bangsa Moro : 30 Years Hence” by Eric U. Gutierrez, whose work is still in progress and published in the Internet, April 2003, recommends a negotiated settlement even on the issue of Negotiated Secession: Ultimate Test for Moro Nationhood:

“Conditions are such that neither the MILF nor the MNLF can aspire for winning secession through war.  Even the Organization of Islamic Conference, which has sustained the Moro cause through the years, officially advocates autonomy.  The only way then that nationhood can be won is to continue the process of Moro nation-building while negotiating for secession with the Manila government.

* * *

“Manila, however, could not evade the secession question for long.  If it refuses to negotiate with the MILF on the basis of this agenda, the peace talks will inevitably fail.  Having no reason to continue negotiations, the MILF will have a case for a unilateral declaration of independence.  It can tell the international community that since Manila refuses to discuss the issue, they have no other recourse but to proclaim their independence and sovereignty, unilaterally.  The battle will then become more difficult and painful.  Locally, both sides will seek to demonstrate who has control over Moro territory.  Internationally, it will be a fight for recognition form the community of nations.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, a negotiation on secession will not necessarily turn Mindanao over to the Moros on a silver platter.  If Manila will take that big step of recognizing the right of Moros to self-determination and ultimately to independence, it will force the Moro leadership to prove their case and meet the stringent requirements of nationhood.  They will first have to show that they are indeed a people, not only in theory but also in actual practice.  One way of doing this is to demonstrate that a majority of Moros backs not only the MILF leadership, but also the cause of independence.  This will be through the process of a referendum.”[79]


Professor Ben J. Kadil, PhD of the Department of History, Mindanao State University has published a book entitled “History of Moro and Indigenous People of MINSUPALA” and he entertains the same concern of a distinct Bangsa Moro Nation and the need to allow that nation to exercise of self-determination either as an Independent state or a Federal state or perhaps an associated free state or a Bangsa Moro Islamic Region.  Professor Kadil appeals that:

“The history of Bangsa Moro and indigenous peoples is nothing but a history of struggle and survival in their Minsupala homeland.  They inhabited the region since civilization began five thousand years ago and established their kerajaan and sultaniyyah before colonization by western powers.  Their history was reconstructed not as a history of colonial powers, but of the emergence and appearance of their own societies.

“This struggle simply means the preservation of Moros as Bangsa, or an “Islamic society,” and to strive towards restoring a “just, equitable, fraternal, and free society” that is protected from every form of tyranny (fitnah) and ignorance (jahiliyyah) that characterized the west, including Filipinas.  Miserably the Moros, or Muslims, have been contaminated by such a cancerous experience, hence they must aspire to restore and establish their Bangsa – their sense of chastity, pride, honor, dignity and prestige as an Islamic people sharing a common national ideology, distinct from the rest but part of the Ummah, or universal Islamic society.

“The Bangsa Moro as an Islamic people aspire to fulfill their stewardship (khalifah), in accordance with Qur’anic injunctions, and not imposed by satruh (enemy) or kufr (evil) forces, in their homeland in order to restore a muttaqu (God-fearing, just and upright) society that can redeem majority of their people from the agonizing and miserable future the country is currently or has been actually experiencing.”[80]


The proposed constitutional convention if it pushes through should not commit the same mistake of refusing to discuss the constitutional proposals to the Bangsa Moro as the convention/commissions of the 1935, 1973 and 1987 which produced constitutions that merely aggravated the conflict in Mindanao.  The first priority must be discuss the Bangsa Moro aspirations for the exercise of their historic, legal and Islamic rights as a federal state, an autonomous Bangsa Moro Islamic Region (BI’R),  Free Associated State or even as an Independent Bangsa Moro State to be established by UN Referendum.

It is proper at this conclusion of this dissertation to quote a non-Muslim, Protestant Christian, Tausog Scholar from Siasi, Sulu and who is nationally respected as a scholar, on his observation of the roadblocks to a just, comprehensive and peaceful political settlement of the conflict with the Bangsa Moro Fronts Professor Samuel K. Tan, wrote:

“Although the administration is trying its best to correct the imbalance, it is handicapped by at least three perceived roadblocks:

  1. The colonial heritage and bias against non-Christians have not been reduced or meaningfully altered but on the contrary have increased in importance.


This fact was revealed by a social-scientific survey of prejudice level by a Filipinas Foundation-Funder team in 1977 supervised by two prominent UP professors, Dr. Alfredo Lagmay, and Dr. Ruben Santos-Cuyugan.  After thirty years, I repeated the survey but in a comparatively smaller scale and limited to just a seminar group.

The random survey indicated an alarming increase, not decrease, in mutual levels of prejudice between Christians and non-Christians.  The implication becomes quite pronounced against the background of numerous peace process initiated by the government and the private sectors in the local, national, and international levels.

        2. The increasing level of frustrations of the marginalized sectors regardless of differences, on account of the State’s inability to full redress their grievances and satisfy their needs. The frustration has been ideologically transformed into Islamic fundamentalism in the case of the Muslim community and into Marxist-Leninism in the case of the poor masses.  Lamentably, the State does not have as yet an ideological answer to either the Islamic or Marxist-Leninist paradigm beyond palliatives for hungry mouths and homeless families and rhetorics and propaganda for the tri-media.

     3,   The unwillingness of the individual and corporate sectors that control the economic resources and potentials of the region from within or without, to equitably share the greater part of their profits and incomes with the masses.  In short, there is an absence of true altruism which should be the controlling principle in our capitalist system – if such system were to truly serve the ends of social justice and the universal principles of Christian, Islamic and animistic ideology.


Lastly, it is imperative to conclude that the search for a lasting breakthrough in the Mindanao peace process might ultimately be found in what genuine federalism can offer to a highly pluralistic society as the Philippines, a society marked by increasingly irreconcilable religious ideologies and by diverse ethnic traditions that refuse to die.  The merits of federalism as an approach to the nagging Mindanao problem had been recognized as far back as the Malolos Republic.  No less than Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo advocated this system to integrate the various sectors that Aguinaldo advocated this system to integrate various sectors that constituted the national community.  Surprisingly, even, James Blount in his The American Occupation of the Philippines, 1898-1913 supported this model and even suggested the structural justification for federalizing the whole archipelago.  In short, the government must seriously consider federalism if it wants to pre-empt the inevitable implications of social movements that advocate either independence or radical reform of society.”[81]

The government position that was explained by Sec. Eduardo R. Ermita, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Chairman of the GRP Panel negotiating with the MILF,during the recently concluded Christian Bishops and Muslim Ulamas Conference for Southeast Asia at the Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel, August 18, 2003, that :









This government declaration is an opening to the possibility of a new constitutional formula that will satisfy the Bangsa Moro aspirations as well remain in a Federated Philippines. Maybe under Federalism, if a Bangsa Moro state or states will be established to the satisfaction of the Bangsa Moro, Mindanaoans, Lumads and the Filipino people as whole since the majority must ratify the new constitution, genuine peace and a comprehensive political solution that will accommodate the Bangsa Moro Identity claims, protection of their ancestral domains and ancestral lands, preservation and enforcement of the Sharia Judicial system, the Madrassah Islamic Education, authority on local peace and public security, effective Islamic governance and clean elections,  meaningful participation as partners in Federal governance, and other Bangsa Moro Concerns, will be finally attained, by the Grace of Allah, Insha-Allah.




[59] The Policy Conference National Defense College of the Philippines Foundation and the ISIP

Foundation of the ROTC UP Vanguard Alumni on April 28, 2000

[60] Ibid. Policy Conference

[61] Santos, Soliman  Constitutional Accommodation of a Bangsa Moro Islamic Region, 2003

[62] Ibid.  Santos, Soliman  Constitutional Accommodation of a Bangsa Moro Islamic Region,

2003Santos Soliman, Jr.

[63] Ibid.  Santos Soliman, Jr.

[64] Ibid. Santos Soliman, Jr.

[65] Atty. Musib Buat, Chairman of the MILF Legal Technical Committee and Spokesman of

MILF Panel, PMLF held last April 24, 2003 on the question of the Bangsa Moro Independent


[66] Prof. Manaros B. Boransing and Luis O. Lacar, Referendum for Independence or Autonomy,

“Policy Conference in Mindanao” sponsored by Iligan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and

GRP Panel, Maria Christina Hotel, Iligan City, 1999

[67] Letter of Chairman Hashim Salamat to Pres. Bush on January 20, 2003

[68] Worcester v. The State of Georgia, 483, 501 (1832).

[69] Op-cit. Buat, Musib

[70] Declaration of Intent and Manifestation of Direct Political Act, Bangsamoro Consultative

Assembly, 2000

[71] Covenant of the Bangsa Moro People (Janji’ O Bangsa Moro), July 2000

[72] Marohomsalic, Nasser, Roadmap to  “The Bangsamoro Islamic State, AIM Policy Center, 2003

Muslim Perspective on the Mindanao Conflict,” pp. 18-19

[73]Hussin, Parouk, “Challenge of War and Search for Peace”, Muslim Perspective on the Mindanao

Conflict, AIM Policy Center, 2002, pp. 18-19

[74] (More on Self-Determination, Today Newspaper, May 14, 2000 by Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ).

[75] Peace Consultative meeting held on September 28, 200 at EDSA Shang-rila, Mandaluyong

[76] Communiqué of the First Mindanao Political Leaders Forum at Davao City on March 13, 2003

[77] PMLF Communiqué, April 25, 2003 held at Manila Midtown Hotel

[78] Ibid. PMLF Communiqué

[79] Re-imagination of the Bangsa Moro: 30 Years Hence” by Eric U. Gutierrez, published in

the internet on April 2003

[80] Kadil, Ben J. PhD “History of Moro and Indigenous People of MINSUPALA, Mindanao State

University Press, 2002

[81] Dr. Tan, Samuel K., Muslim Perspective on the Mindanao Conflict, AIM Policy Center, 2003

[82] – Ermita, Eduardo. “Role of the Bishops-Ulama Conference in the Peace Negotiations”, 21st BUC General Assembly, Westin Philippine Plaza, August 18-21, 2003






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



As mentioned earlier, this author was sent as a lawyer to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in February 1972 at the Islamic OIC LOGOConference of Foreign Ministers of the OIC.  He met with Secretary General Tengku Abdul Rahman and asked King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz to mention the issue in his speech.  King Faisal also called Tun Abdul Razak to support the case, which Malaysia did.  Minister Buoyaser of Libya coordinated with the Moros and got the Bangsa Moro issue into the agenda for the next conference in Libya.  That was how the Bangsa Moro issue became the concern of the OIC from 1972 to the present – 29 years and still not finally settled.  When martial law was declared, the author was  arrested and detained at Fort Bonifacio.  In 1976, he went into exile in Saudi Arabia until 1987, after EDSA I upon invitation of the government under President Corazon C. Aquino.

In 1972, the Bangsa Moro clans led the fight against the military that were sent to the Moro areas to collect loose firearms which started with the October uprising in Marawi in 1972.  Later in 1973, the MNLF gradually took over the leadership of the armed struggle because of the weapons they were able to bring into Mindanao and logistics donated by supporters of the Bangsa Moro JIHAD. The OIC and many Islamic organizations and governments gave political and material support to the Bangsa Moro.  The OIC Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia and Senegal came to the Philippines in 1973 and met with the President and agreed to work out a political solution.  They went to the Muslim areas up to Sulu.  In 1974, the burning of Jolo resulted when the MNLF fighters entered Jolo and a very big battle raged with naval bombardment ordered against Jolo in disregard for innocent civilian lives.

As a consequence, the 1974 Islamic Summit was held in Islamabad, Pakistan.  The Summit declared that the situation of the Bangsa Moro Muslims was not an internal problem but a concern of the whole Muslim world.  This was demanded by the Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.  The Bangsa Moro was allowed to convene in Marawi City by President Marcos. The Confederation of the Royal Houses of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan led by its Chairman, Sultan Harun Al Rashid Lucman and this author as the Supervising Officers of the Presidential Task Force for the Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao, held the “Mindanao Policy Conference” and came out with a resolution demanding regional political autonomy. This was at the height of martial law and it became the political basis for the OIC to demand regional political autonomy and the demand for negotiations with the Bangsa Moro leaders and the MNLF at the 1974 Kuala Lumpur Conference of OIC-ICFM.  At this time there was only one leadership and organization – the MNLF.  The Bangsa Moro struggle got the support of the Muslim states and the first negotiation between MNLF and GRP was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia hosted by the OIC in 1975.  Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor led the GRP delegation.


In 1976, the government created a negotiating panel headed by Carmelo Z. Barbero to talk peace again with the MNLF.  The talks were held under the auspices of the OIC in Tripoli, Libya.  The peace talks resulted in the forging of the now historic Tripoli Agreement and recognized as the historic territories of the Bangsa Moro Darul Salam of the Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao, Pat-a Pagampong a Ranao, Rajah Buayan and Saragani or the areas almost corresponding to the Moro Province during the American occupation which is the whole of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan except the Caraga Region.  To end the war, the areas of autonomy consisting of 13 provinces and cities therein were recognized by the GRP as the Bangsa Moro Homeland.  These are the areas which were later constituted as the SZOPAD – Special Zone of Peace and Development. President Marcos held a referendum on the areas of autonomy and reduced the area to 10 provinces and cities and established the Regional Commissions for Regions 9 and 12.  The violation of the Tripoli Agreement was from its inception and it was more honored in the breach rather in compliance.  In 1977, Hashim Salamat, the MNLF Vice Chairman for Foreign Affairs left the organization and formed as separate faction of the MNLF. After a few years when OIC did not recognize him, Salamat organized the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), emphasizing Islam instead of only political and economic grievance of the Bangsa Moro.

This split was later followed in 1982 when the Moro Peoples National Congress of MNLF led by Atty. Abdul Basit Harrid (Jibril Riddah) and Haji Napis Bidin ousted Chairman Nur Misuari and installed Commander Dimas Pundato as Chairman, supported by many active commanders in the Homeland.  Pundato was then Vice-Chairman of Misuari’s MNLF.  The BMLO and the Pundato faction later joined forces and established the MNLF-Reformist Group.  The group disbanded when Pundato joined the government as OMA Chief under President Corazon Aquino.  The reformist commanders who did not join the government like Cdr. Digo and Cdr. Iqra formed in 1999, the new MNLF-Islamic Command Council with Mujahab Hashim as Chairman and Cdr. Milham Alam as Chief of Staff.  Eventually, the four MNLF factions reunited and approved a constitution in Tripoli, Libya, April 2003.  They have not yet elected a Chairman and other officers.


The government implemented the Tripoli Agreement unilaterally in a manner that was in contravention with the letter and spirit of the said Agreement.  In 1986, President Marcos was deposed through “People Power” and Tripoli AgreementCorazon C. Aquino ascended to the Presidency.  She did not honor fully the Tripoli Agreement according to MNLF – the only pact, treaty or agreement signed during the Marcos regime that Aquino refused to recognize despite the commitment of Ninoy Aquino, to fully implement the Tripoli Agreement and if autonomy would not work after ten years, he will support the independence of Bangsa Moro.  This author was present when this statement was made in 1982 because Sultan Rashid Lucman, General Salipada Pendatun and this author met with King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia with Ninoy Aquino at the King’s Palace in Taif, Saudi Arabia.   We also arranged and gave Ninoy his passport “Martial Bonifacio” which he filled-up at Sheraton Hotel, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in this author’s presence.

The author was able with exiled Moro leaders in Saudi Arabia like the late Ambassador Mauyag Tamano to convince the then OIC Secretary General Puzada to send a message to President Aquino recognizing her as the President of the Philippines in March 1, 1986.  This was five days after EDSA I  and the forty-nine (49) Muslim states were the first to recognized the legality of EDSA I.  This fact has never been mentioned in the EDSA I history which is unfortunate because the Bangsa Moro conflict would have been settled much earlier.

President Aquino created a Constitutional Commission (ConCom) that drafted a new constitution for the country.  The new constitution contained a provision for the creation of an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  The new constitution was ratified in 1987 and a new Congress was established in the same year.  Art. X was the reason why the MNLF broke-off negotiations with President Aquino and the MNLF did not recognize the Organic Act.  The MILF adopted the same position and both boycotted the elections.  Majority of the Muslim rejected or boycotted the said Act. It was for this reason that the Act was ratified by only four (4) provinces.  The Christians and the Lumad’s (culturally indigenous groups) did not reject per se the concept of regional autonomy.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., sponsored the bill in the Senate- the “Organic Act for Muslim Mindanao” which was signed into law as Republic Act (RA) No. 6734*.  The MNLF and MILF claimed that it was a betrayal of the Tripoli Agreement, a charge that Senator Pimentel refuted by claiming that the law implemented 99% of the Tripoli Agreement.  President Ramos in 1993 revived negotiations with Chairman Misuari to fully implement the Tripoli Agreement as a binding international obligation and commitment.  This was an admission that RA 6734 did not implement fully the Tripoli Agreement.  The Final Peace Agreement (FPA) was signed on September, 1996 between the MNLF/OIC and GRP in Jakarta and finally in Manila.


The FPA provided for the reorganization of the ARMM and the establishment of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and its Consultative Assembly (CA).  The SPCPD was tasked with coordinating development programs and projects for Mindanao but the government failed to provide the necessary funds and Jakarta Accordsupport facilities to the SPCPD, the government had allegedly allocated FORTY ONE BILLION PESOS (P41B) but only Eighteen (18B) Billion Pesos had been disbursed according to SPCPD/ARMM officials form 1996-2000.  It also did not cooperate with the SPCPD in implementing the development programs and projects for Mindanao.  There was inadequate funding and later in the Senate Hearings the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) admitted that the total releases for ARMM were below P18 Billion under the term of Regional Governor Misuari and most of the funds were for personnel services for the devolved agencies.  There was nothing “Final” in the Agreement because it was subject to the “Will of Congress” and the “Dictates of the Executive.”

The creation of the Mindanao Coordinating Council had sidelined the SPCPD  (established by E.O. 371), which was created by President Estrada to be the arm of the Office of the President in the planning, recommendation, coordination and monitoring/validating nationally and internationally funded socio-economic projects in the SZOPAD areas.  The Chairman of the Consultative Assembly of SPCPD announced that there would be en masse resignations by the ASSEMBLYMEN because the MCC under EO 261, S.2000, and the SPCPD/ARMM were monitoring and validating agencies but were not represented in the council and no Muslim was appointed to the council.  This author was invited to address the First Joint Sessions of the ARMM-RLA and the SPCPD-Consultative Assembly on September, 2001 upon the invitation of Chairman Misuari at General Santos City. The creation of the MCC and non-implementation of the FPA and the failure to enact the Organic Act* agreed to in the FPA was denounced and the resolution was forwarded to GRP and the OIC Fact Finding Mission of the OIC.  Fr. Eliseo Mercado claims that the SPCPD has been rendered virtually inutile as Chairman Nur Misuari has earlier declared. Without the SPCPD then, the FPA should be considered revoked at least by implication because there is no more implementing agency.  After the ratification last August 14, 2001 of the Organic Law, then the SPCPD was ipso facto abolished and the SPDA was abolished in 2002.

From 1999 to 2002 the government failed to fully implement the FPA in its substantive provisions as far as MNLF/OIC is concerned (later as evidenced by Resolution No. 02-30, May 30, 2003, 30th ICFM at Tehran, Iran). At the same time the negotiations with the MILF broke down and led to renewed fighting between government troops and this time, the MILF carried on the Moro armed struggle when the MNLF decided to stop fighting after they signed the FPA and its chairman became then ARMM regional governor and concurrent SPCPD chairman.  On the other hand, Joseph Ejercito Estrada was elected President in 1998 with the support of the MILF and many Islamic organizations because he signed an agreement with Ummah Party of Lanao del Sur to pursue peace and development and appoint a Muslim to the cabinet and other high positions.  He also announced that he would establish a Malacañang in the south as well as implement the peace process and the FPA.


In August of 1998, the GRP and MILF signed an Interim Agreement to continue the negotiations started with the GRP under President Ramos.  There was a lot of goodwill because the new AFP chief of Staff, General Nazareno was even endorsed by MILF and the MILF supported President Estrada on the week of the elections.  The President knew this, Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects; Robert Aventajado even brought the reply of the President to Camp Abubakar and met with Chairman Hashim Salamat.  He later became a frequent visitor and gave socio-economic projects and infrastructure projects to MILF as confidence building measures and entered into an agreement making the area a zone for peace.  The GRP also entered into agreements with MILF acknowledging the major camps of the MILF and this was under President Estrada and not under President Ramos. Everyone was euphoric that peace was at hand and development and progress will follow as the peace dividends.  Later, the “all-out war” of President Estrada was launched against the MILF despite the signing of the Aide Memoire between the GRP and MILF.  The rest is history chronicled in blood in Mindanao and street protests all over the country.  It culminated with EDSA II and the ouster of Estrada.

The new President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared an “all-out peace” policy and dropped all the charges against Chairman Salamat and other MILF leaders and started new negotiations.  The new all out war against MILF was again launched by Secretary Angelo Reyes in February 2002 during the Eidul Adha prayers in the early morning of February 10, 2003 at the Islamic Center of the Buliok complex at Pikit, Cotabato after there was already a decision by both the GRP and MILF to meet at Kuala Lumpur to discuss the peace agreement.  Secretary Eduardo Ermita even said on TV that day that it was “tragic” because of the peace process was going smoothly.  The panels met at Kuala Lumpur for exploratory talks and came up with a Joint Statement on March 28, 2003.  This was after the Davao International Airport bombing on March 4, 2003.  The March 28, 2003 agreement was not implemented because of another bombing on April 4, 2003 at Sasa Port, Davao City.  Again Exploratory Talks were held at Kuala Lumpur and another agreement was made in June 21, 2003.  This was again not implemented because despite the two unilateral declarations of MILF to stop all offensive military actions on May 28 and June 12, 2003, respectively, the AFP did respond and military operations against the MILF forces continued.

However, on July 18, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement between MILF and GRP which was finally signed by MILF on July 20, 2003 because Chairman Al Haj Murad was in the mountain areas at that time, Chairman Hashim Salamat already died on July 13, 2003 and since Murad signed the Ceasefire Agreement, it is significant because he was already the Chairman of the MILF and the GRP signed through Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Chairman of the GRP panel.  The Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of GRP-MILF met for the IOTH- CCCH meeting at Cotabato City on August 4, 2003.  I was present as a guest being the Secretary General of the Philippine Muslim Leaders Forum.  The CCCH is now operational and they are working to organize the Local Monitoring Team (LMT’s) to enforce the ceasefire.  Malaysia is expected to send observers.

The ceasefire agreement between the GRP and MILF was signed principally because of the insistence of the Philippine Muslim Leaders Forum (PMLF) which is the broadest loose associations of Muslim elected and appointing Muslim officials with the government to stop military operations and enforce the ceasefire.

In a letter sent to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on July 16, 2003 by PMLF Chairman Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin[38] presented the situation and urgent need for a ceasefire to restart the peace talks:

“The MILF officials met with U.S. officials for two hours yesterday and have discussed the relationship and time-line with the U.S. in the peace process.  They are also coordinating with Malaysia.  After our lengthy discussions, we have agreed that the PMLF will present to Your Excellency the herein suggestions to break the impasse.  I called Secretary Eduardo Ermita in the presence of the MILF officials and told him about these suggestions, and he agreed that this Memorandum be submitted today.

“As agreed last June 21, 2003, once the GRP drops the charges and cancels the warrants and begins the phased redeployment of military forces in Buliok, which it has started with the return of the Islamic Center, and the MILF has internally ordered their men at arms to desist as they have desisted from offensive military actions, the GRP will Issue a SOMO soonest after June 23, 2003.

“Immediately, by June 28, 2003 the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) will be reconvened for the permanent ceasefire and reactivate the Local Monitoring Teams (LMTs).  The GRP CCCH Chairman shall be headed by a General from the AFP.  The meeting was supposed to be held on June 28, 2003 in Estosan Hotel, Cotabato.  Arrangements were to be made by Secretary Norberto Gonzales but the meeting did not push through because Sec. Gonzales left for Europe.  He rescheduled it for July 12, 2003 but he GRP panel was informed late and therefore asked for postponement.  It was rescheduled to July 18, 2003 but Malaysia is still waiting for the settlement of the Issue on the warrants of arrest and the MILF is also waiting for the SOMO of the GRP.

“In view of these developments, we agreed to propose that the meeting be held immediately between the GRP and the MILF wherein both parties will simultaneously declare the effectivity of the ceasefire agreement of June 21, 2003, convene the CCCH, and reactivate the LMTs.

“The Malaysians will now be requested to send the international monitoring teams to monitor the ceasefire in coordination with the CCCH and the LMTs.

“As provided in the GRP-MILF joint communiqué of May 6, 2003 signed in Malaysia, “the MILF and GRP shall from an Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group against criminal elements in order to pursue and apprehend such criminal elements.”  Furthermore, the Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group “will operate in tandem with their respective Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities.”

“The U.S. can now be requested to contribute funds for the operation of the CCCH and the LMTs as well as discuss with the GRP-MILF the areas or projects where the U.S. can contribute the funds as offered.”[39]


Again, in the Memorandum sent by the author to Secretary Eduardo Ermita on GRP and MILF Negotiations dated July 17, 2003, where he amplified in the Memorandum of Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapudin and discussed the Minutes of the March 28, 2003 Joint Statement and the June 21, 2003 GRP-MILF understanding and the letter of US President Bush to Chairman Salamat, he stated that:

“3.  The Joint Statement of March 28, 2003 between the GRP and the MILF agreed on the following points:

  1. Both parties reiterate their commitment to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting political settlement of the conflict in Mindanao and resolve to undertake appropriate steps to pave the way for the resumption of the formal GRP-MILF peace negotiations;
  1. Both parties reaffirm to implement effectively on the ground all past and existing GRP-MILF agreements. Details of implementation shall be discussed by the Panels;
  2.  Both parties agree to exercise mutual restraint to minimize, if not put an end to, violence in Mindanao; 
  3.  To normalize the situation and facilitate the early return of evacuees to their places of origin and allow rehabilitation to proceed, a new arrangement on the ground will be forged by both parties;
  4. The Philippine government takes note of the activation of the Bangsamoro Development Agency;
  5. Both parties agree to direct their respective Technical Committees to work on the Implementing Guidelines of the Joint Communiqué signed on May 6, 2002 to ensure that the peace process is not adversely affected by the presence of criminal groups in Mindanao. The Technical Committees will meet within two (2) weeks from today;
  6. The parties agree to improve the existing mechanism for monitoring of the cessation of hostilities including the composition of an observer/monitoring groups as provided for in the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001;
  7. The parties reaffirm the provision on the grant of Safety and Security Guarantees to MILF leaders and members who are directly and principally involved in the GRP-MILF peace talks; and
  8. Both parties express their gratitude for the gracious hospitality of the Government of Malaysia in hosting and facilitating the exploratory talks and for continuing its support to the peace process.”[40]


“Under item no. 1, the “The phrase resolved to undertake steps” means the GRP agreed to undertake appropriate steps to cover the withdrawal of AFP troops from Buliok Complex and recalls of warrants of arrest issued against all MILF leaders and members.  The pull out and recalls will be conducted within 4 weeks from today.  While the term “resumption” means formal negotiation will be back on track but Malaysia has to be consulted as agreed by both parties.”  This item was again reiterated on June 21, 2003 between the GRP and the MILF under item no. 3(b), “In response to this positive development, the GRP has agreed to undertake the following:


  • Facilitate the judicial process, in coordination with the Department of Justice, leading to the lifting of the Warrants of Arrests filed against MILF leaders and the Reward bounties for the apprehension of certain MILF leaders;
  •  Begin the process leading to the phased redeployment of military forces from the Buliok Complex”[41]

It is very clear that the commitment to recall the Warrant of Arrests against all MILF leaders should have been done within four weeks from March 28, 2003 which was April 28, 2003 by the GRP. In the June 21, 2003 understanding mention again was made to facilitate the judicial process with the DOJ to lift such warrants and cancel the bounties.  In the understanding of June 16, 2003 between the GRP and the MILF, the lifting of warrants and bounties was an obligation of the GRP which they will consult with the principal and the GRP agreed to these points.  GRP has partially withdrawn from Buliok Complex and returned the Islamic Center to Datu Abbas Pendatun, Sanggunian Member of North Cotabato.

  1. In the June 21, 2003 understanding, the GRP stated that “The June 20, 2003 MILF Statement entitled “Policy Statement of MILF Chair Salamat Hashim Rejecting Terror as a Means to Resolve Differences” substantially responds to the need for the MILF to publicly condemn terrorism and terrorist organizations.”[42] The GRP acceptance should have led to the GRP issuances of SOMO at the soonest possible time immediately after June 23, 2003.  A meeting of the CCCH was scheduled on June 28, 2003 at Estosan, Cotabato City to be coordinated by Sec. Gonzales and Atty. Ali.  The purpose was to re-establish the ceasefire under the agreement of June 2001 and reactivated the LMT’s.  The Malaysian Monitoring Team will be fielded to monitor the ceasefire all over the areas of conflict.  The GRP has already requested Malaysia.


  1. In the understanding of June 21, 2003, “On the issue of Chairman Salamat’s presence during the peace negotiations, the MILF noted that Chairman Salamat has made known his intention to be present during the finalization of the GRP-MILF Peace Agreement and on the actual signing of the said Agreement.


The GRP, noting that Chairman Salamat’s presence would be much preferred during the talks, will request for Chairman Salamat’s presence during the Opening Ceremony for the resumption of formal talks.”[43]  The MILF Panel informed the PMLF in our talks last June 15, 2003 that Chairman Salamat has agreed to be present in the Opening Ceremony as confirmed to you in the memo of the PMLF.

  1. Going back to the May 20, 2003 letter of Chairman Salamat to President Bush, this was actually the 2nd letter. The 1st letter (January 20, 2003) was a reply to US Ambassador Riciardone when he spoke before the FCAP when he raised the questions: “The US Government’s desire to know “What the MILF want or how its (the problem) going to be resolved”.  The MILF said “We take this opportunity to inform Your Excellency that the MILF is a national liberation organization, with leadership supported by the Bangsa Moro People, and with legitimate political goal to pursue the right of the Moro nation to determine their future and political status.  As part of this process, we have an on-going negotiation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to arrive at a negotiated political settlement of the Mindanao conflict and the Bangsa Moro problem, through the mediation and tender of good offices of the Government of Malaysia.”[44]
  1. It is this letter that was answered by the Joint Statement of US President and Arroyo on May 19, 2003 and the speech of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage explaining the new US Policy which was accepted by MILF of their May 20, 2003 letter. The US President instructed Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly to reply on June 18, 2003 to the letter of Chairman Salamat dated May 20, 2003.  This letter was hand carried by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mathew Dailey and met with the MILF officials.  The basic points of the letter are:

The United States Government is committed to the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

 “The United States recognizes that the Muslims of the southern Philippines have serious, legitimate grievances that must be addressed.

 “The United States wishes to see an end to the violence in the southern Philippines and is working to assist the Republic of the Philippines in addressing the root causes of that violence.

 “The United States is concerned about the links between the MILF and international terrorist organizations and asks that those links be severed immediately.

 “The United States stands ready to support, both politically and financially, a bon fide peace process between the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF.

 “The United States appreciates the notable work that the Government of Malaysia has performed in this connection over the last two years, and will not seek to supplant Kuala Lumpur; indeed, we week to work with the Malaysians for a successful peace settlement.

 “The United States Government will not mediate between the Government of the Philippines, nor will it participate in the negotiations directly.  We have asked the United States Institute of Peace, a respected conflict-resolution organization, to encourage the negotiation process in coordination with the Government of Malaysia.  The USIP is ready to begin this task as soon as we have a clear signal from you as to your readiness to follow through.”[45]


This declaration of the US government addressed to the leader of a revolutionary organizations is a “First” for the US and World Affairs and also a “First” for the Bangsamoro Movement because MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari never received such a communication from the US President, particularly at this time when the United States has emerged as the only super power in the world.  This policy statement of the US President must be seriously considered by the GRP because of the proposed implications not only in the Philippines or Mindanao or the Asian but in the whole Muslim world.  The US offer of political and financial assistance to a bona fide peace process be properly accepted and understood.[46]

It is a rebuff to the peace process because it is considered by the United States as not bona fide or in bad faith.  Both parties must seriously evaluate their actions to restore confidence to the peace process.

  1. The assignment of the US government of the US Institute of Peace (USIP) is a direct involvement of the US government because the USIP is a Federal Institution funded by the US government since 1984 with the Congressional mandate and the Board of Directors are all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate just like the members of the US Supreme Court. They have already scheduled meeting with MILF and plan exchange of missions.
  1. It is imperative that the GRP and MILF must implement their agreements which are binding international obligations of both parties mediated by Malaysia in March 28, 2003 and June 21, 2003 particularly convening the meeting of the CCCH and simultaneously declare the resumption of the ceasefire under the agreement of 2001 and cancel all the warrants of arrests and bounties against all the accused MILF. This is also the suggestion of the US as well as Malaysia and other OIC countries in support of the appeal of churches and other religious groups and civil society.  The conclusion of the US letter to Chairman Salamat clearly manifests the US concern for a peaceful political settlement:

“I note with satisfaction that the MILF has declared a temporary ceasefire, which I urge you to extend until a settlement is concluded.  Both sides need to refrain from actions that merely perpetuate the cycle of violence.  Neither side can win this conflict on the battlefield; however, both the MILF and the Republic of the Philippines can achieve a lasting victory for the people of Mindanao by coming to a settlement.”[47]


The two Memoranda played a vital role in convincing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to declare the ceasefire on July 18, 2003, five (5) days after the death of Chairman Hashim Salamat which was only confirmed on August 4, 2003 during the resumption of the meetings of the CCCH to re-establish the ceasefire.



* R.A. No. 6734 was the original Organic Law for ARMM and was ratified by only four

provinces,  Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao Sur

* R.A. No. 6734 was the original Organic Law for ARMM and was ratified by only four

provinces,  Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao Sur


[38] Memorandum sent to Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by Deputy Speaker Gerry

Salapuddin on the Peace Process dated July 16, 2003

[39] Salapuddin, Gerry, Memorandum to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, July 16, 2003

[40] GRP-MILF Joint Statement, Exploratory Talks at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 28, 2003

[41] Understanding of GRP-MILF Exploratory Talks at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 21, 2003

[42] Ibid. Understanding

[43] Ibid. Understanding

[44] Letter of MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat to President George W. Bush, January 20, 2003

[45] Letter from US Department of State signed by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly for

President Bush to MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat dated June 18, 2003. cited in the paper of

Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita, “Role of the Bishops-Ulama Conference in the Peace

Negotiations, Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel, August 18, 2003.

[46] Memorandum of Usec. Macapanton Y. Abbas, Jr. to Sec. Ermita on July 17, 2003 on the GRP-

MILF  Negotiations

[47] Op-cit. Memorandum of Usec. Macapanton Y. Abbas, Jr.




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









mainphoto(Just before he passed away, Macapanton Rashid Yahya Abbas, Jr, wrote a rambling essay on the Bangsa Moro Conflict and was published in the Ateneo Law Journal  Vol. 48  Sept 2003.  Officially, he was designated as Secretary-General of several Moro groups like the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO), the National Coordinating Council for Islamic Affairs (NACCIA), Islamic Directorate of the Philippines (IDP, which included Misuari and Salamat), etc. He was the President of the Moro Youth National Assembly (MYNA, which included Misuari and Salamat). He was the International Spokesman and Chair for International Affairs of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF-Reformist Group). Unofficially, he was the de facto leader of the MNLF-RG and later, was adviser to the MILF and MNLF  (all factions). For many people, Abbas, Jr. was the “brain of the Bangsa Moro revolution.”)

Below are excerpts of his article “Is Bangsa Moro State Within a Federation the Solution?”:


(N.B.: He was Full Professor at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the mid to late 1970s. Thus, he can legitimately use the title of Professor.)


The topic of “Federalism and the Peace Process” which has been chosen as the topic of discussion by the Ateneo Law Journal for its second issue for Vol. 48 on September 2003 under the theme “Emerging Trends in Philippine Constitutional Law and Constitutional Reforms” is timely in view of the advocacy of the “Federalists” like Rey Teves, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Dr. Jose Abueva and a host of leaders who believe that the “Federalization of the Philippine State” is the Constitutional solution that answers many problems of state and governance including the “Peace Process” in Mindanao between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The issue of “Federalism” is not limited to the “Peace Process” because the two are completely separate issues.  The Federal system can be adopted independent of the “Peace Process” in Mindanao. The MILF as well as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) may enter into “comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Mindanao conflict” under an International Agreement or Constitutional Arrangement even if the Federal system is not adopted.  This will be discussed later in this paper.

However, the question may be – Can a Federal State for the Bangsa Moro People be the best option for a peaceful political solution and lead to a lasting peace in Mindanao?  Hence, Federalism is the best way for the peace process to aim for the final status agreement with the Bangsa Moro People.  In this context, it is imperative to understand Islam and the Muslim faithful.  The concept of the Muslim Ummah (Community) in the universal sense as well as national and ethnic perspective which is the basis of the Muslim Law of Nations and relations of Muslim states and nations and peoples on the international level must be studied and appreciated.  The terminologies of Islam, the Muslims, and the Bangsa Moro; the history of the Bangsa Moro People as states; as anti-imperialist and anti-colonial fighters, as movements for national liberation and as citizens of the Philippines which spans a millennium is important to study and evaluated.  These will be discussed and this author shall present the different political options including a federal system for the Philippines.

In June 1980, a two-day conference, “The World of Islam from Morocco to Indonesia”, was held in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 14th Centennial of Islam.  Over 400 scholars from around the world were brought together to explore Islam and the Modern World.  This author was one of the discussants in the said Conference and it was sponsored by the Asia Society, Department of State and John Hopkins University to celebrate the Fourteenth (14th) Century of ISLAM.

The Conference concluded that at present, the impact of industrial development, technology, urbanization and secular values has had far-reaching consequences.  All over the world, rapid change has disrupted social patterns and cultural traditions which served as reference points for centuries.  Muslims, no less than others, are reacting to the flood of Western individualism, materialism, sexuality, family and politics.  To many, these ideas threaten basic Islamic values.  Furthermore, the outlook of most Muslims is strongly colored by a very recent emergence from a long period of foreign domination.  There is also an awareness of the clearly visible economic disposition between industrialized and developing nations, and within societies, between classes.

Also, concerned Muslims across Asia and Africa are actively exploring many routes to find the balance between modernization and tradition.  This reflects a sense among Muslims that Islamic principles may provide them more appropriate solutions to their national problems than those offered by either capitalism or communism.  Therefore, they call for a re-injection of basic Islamic values into the lives of the individual and society.

The clamor for the revival of these Islamic values is gaining credence even in the Philippines with the adoption of the Madrasah Education Program and the adoption of Muslim personal laws under P.D. 1083.   The very concept of secularism is being modified in Europe and North America to promote the correct understanding of Islam and Muslims especially with world events such as the events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Chechenya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Khasmir and Mindanao, Philippines…


… The beliefs and values of Muslim in Islam are important to understand, if one is to gain a deeper insight in the nature and essence of the Bangsa Moro struggle.  It is imperative to understand the terminology of Islam and Moro languages within the peculiar context of their history…


Let us define the terms that we are using particularly Moro or Bangsa Moro and Filipino because the “Hermeneutic Interpretation” of the Bangsa Moro issue is as important as the substantial issues regarding the conflict and how to solve it.  The author’s younger brother Engr. Jamal Ashley Y. Abbas, the first citizen of this country to become a Petroleum Engineer and who is now completing his master’s degree in Communications at University of the Philippines wrote in an award winning article:(18)

“But according to philosophical hermeneutics, History is not separated from the present.  We are always simultaneously part of the past, in the present, and anticipating the future.  In other words, the past operates on us now in the present, and affects our conception of what is yet to come.  At the same time, our present notions of reality affect how we view the past.“Moro leaders and intellectuals maintain that if the Philippine government truly wants to solve the so-called Moro Problem, it must exert an honest-to-goodness effort to understand the feelings, sentiments, biases, ideals, prejudices, customs, traditions and historical experience of the Bangsa Moro as enunciated or articulated by the Moros themselves.

* * *

“Hermeneutics must necessarily come into play if one were serious in solving the “communication gap” between the Muslim and Christian Filipino communities.  There must be a real effort in cultural interpretation.

“The Moro problem is even exacerbated by the textual interpretation of both groups to important documents like the Philippine Constitution and the Tripoli Agreement.

“Many people in the government and the academe try to view the Moro Problem within the framework of social constructionist communication theories or Marxist critical theories.  Some Moro intellectuals believe that postcolonial discourse theories cannot be used because the Moros are still under colonial rule; i.e., Filipino colonial rule.  It is absolutely useless to blame the Americans or multinationals or globalization for the plight of the Moros, as what the leftists are won’t to do.  If there’s anyone to blame, it is the colonial power, i.e. the Filipino government.

“The MNLF, MILF, BMLO and other Moro groups have petitioned the United Nations to resolve that the Bangsa Moro nation be de-colonized.  Today’s Filipino historians, writers, or intellectual do not mention the fact that the great Filipino nationalist himself, Claro M. Recto, authored the bill called “Colonization of Mindanao Act.”

“Hermeneutics phenomenology or philosophical hermeneutics could be the framework needed to help solve this socio-political problem.  Using critical theories, which focus on ideology and power, might simply aggravate the problem.  As Paul Ricoeur wrote:

 “what is at stake can be expressed in terms of an alternative: either a hermeneutical or a critical consciousness… In contrast with the positive assessment of hermeneutics, the theory of ideology adopts a suspicious approach, seeing tradition as merely the systematically distorted expression of communication under unacknowledged conditions of violence.”

It is important that we should have the proper understanding of the recognition given by Philippine Law and Jurisprudence, as well as, by the Philippine government in its agreements with the MNLF and the MILF and the Resolutions of the Organization of the Islamic Conference that the Indigenous Muslim Communities of Mindanao, Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Palawan are to be known as the “Bangsa Moro People” and that their culture, religion, history and civilization are distinct from the Filipinos who were colonized and christianized by Spain and later by America.  Such distinct ethnic nationality does not make them separate or enemies of the Filipinos or the Philippine state but “equal historic communities” that must co-exist and work together to strengthen a common state or even separate states within a federal or confederal system of government.  In the United Kingdom, the Scots, the Welsh or the Irish of North Ireland are not called British or English but they remain a strong state as a United Kingdom and was once an empire.  The Corsicans of France as well as the Britons are not called French or the Basques of  Spain are not called Spaniards or the Wallons and Flemings of Belgium are two separate peoples in one state or the Montenegrens and the Serbs in the Federation of the former Yugoslavia or the Chechens or the Cossacks or Dagastanis and many nationalities in the Russian Federation or the Tibetans or Uighurs of China are not called Chinese or Han for they are separate nations or the Ainos of Japan and so many other cases in the world were you have many nationalities in a single Federal or Con-Federal state like the United States of America.

When the Bangsa Moro asserts its historic right as a national ethnic community, it is not being separatist or secessionist but rather asserting a historical truth that must be acknowledged otherwise there will be no solution to the conflict in Mindanao.  In this connection Father Eliseo Mercado, PhD and former President of Notre Dame University of Cotabato City, in an interview in the United States last May 2, 2003 with the EIR, were he is presently undergoing scholarship at the Georgetown University stated categorically that:

“I believe the Philippine government and for that matter, the Filipino nation, must open up to the reality that we are not a mono-nation-state and that we are poly-ethnic groups and we are a poly-nation-state.  It is possible to have many ethnic groups, and many nations, and still form one country, one republic that is the first thing.  The second thing is to see the root causes of insurgency and rebellions over the problem of separatism.” (19)

The Bangsa Moro Question can have a genuine, just and comprehensive political solution if its distinct historical claim as states before U.S. illegally annexed them into the Philippines by virtue of the Treaty of Paris of 1898, as the basis of the solution.


In order to reconstruct the Islamic theory of international relations, we should bear in mind that Islam offers a social system based on divine revelations and immutable and inalienable rights as part of a political community endowed with a system of laws designed to protect the collective interest of Muslims as well as to regulate their relations with the outside world.  The basic principle of Islamic governance in external relations with other nations is that only the Muslim Nation is the subject of the Islamic legal system, while all other systems are the object of these systems, although the non-Muslim nations are not denied certain advantages of the Muslim Law of nations.  The ultimate goal of Muslim Law of Nations was to establish peace within the territory brought under the pale of its public order and, theoretically, to include the whole world in obedience to Allah’s commandment to govern in accordance with Islam.

“Before Islam could achieve that ultimate objective, it had to enter into relations with communities that had not yet submitted to its control in accordance with a set of rules and practices.  Conformity to Islam’s legal and ethical standards was required not only of the believers whose territory had not yet expanded beyond the frontiers of the state but also of believers who owed their legal – though not necessarily their political – allegiance to Islam. An illustration of this principle can be found in Muslim minorities in China, Russia, Yugoslavia, Thailand, Philippines, etc.

“However, the non-Muslims who resided within the Islamic community, although they were regarded as the subjects or citizens of the state (though not members of the religious community), were not bound by all the Islamic, ethical; and legal rules.  Islamic authority however, had to deal with the problems arising from their inter-relationships with Muslims.“In the ancient near East, Greece and Rome, Islamdom and Western Christendom, a distinct civilization flourished in each of these “worlds”.  Within each civilization a body of rules and practices developed for the purposes of regulating the conduct of each entity with the others in peace and war.

“Former systems of the law of nations, in contrast to the modern International Law of nations, were not universal in character since each system was primarily concerned with regulating the relations of entities and nations within a limited area and within one (though often more than one) civilization.  Furthermore, each past system of the law of nations, in contrast to the modern law, was entirely exclusive, since it did not recognize the principle of legal equality of nations which is the basis of the modern law of nations. (20)

Prof. Masjid Khadduri clearly expressed this legal theory that, the Muslim Law of Nations was based on the theory of a universal state.  The binding force of the said law was not based on consent of reciprocity, but on their own interpretation of their political, moral and religious interests, as they regarded their principles of morality and religion derived mainly from the commandments of ALLAH.  With the entry of the Muslim states in the United Nations (UN), it is a safe assumption that this principle has been relaxed and the legal equality of all nations is gaining acceptance in the Islamic world.

“The Muslim law was ordinarily binding upon individuals rather than territorial groups.  It was only in modern times, especially under the material and cultural pressure of modern civilizations that the observance of law has been attached to people in relation to the territory they live in, rather than in relations to the group they belong to.“The Muslim law of nations is not a separate body of Muslim laws; it is merely an extension of the laws designed to govern the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, whether inside or outside the world of Islam.  Strictly speaking, there is no Muslim Municipal (National) Law and International Law based on different sources and maintained by different sanctions because the Shari’ah makes no distinction.” (21)


The early Muslim jurist either dealt with the conduct of foreign relations in the general law corpora under such headings as “Jihad”, “Spoils of War” and the “Aman” or “Al-Kharaj”.  Later on, all of these were discussed under a technical term “Al-Sijar”.

“In practice the Muslim Law of Nations (Al-Sijar) is taken to mean the sum total of the rules and practices of Islam’s intercourse with other peoples.  The sources are the treaties, utterances and instructions of the Caliph to the commanders in the field, opinions and interpretations of publicist and jurists.  Analyzed in terms of the modern law of nations, the sources are of the same categories defined by modern jurists and the statutes of the International Court of Justice, namely, agreement, custom, reason and authority.” (22)

In Islamic legal theory, the world was therefore divided in two divisions: Dar Assalam (The Abode of Peace) comprising of Islamic and non-Islamic territories held under Islamic sovereignty, and the rest of the world, called Dar Al-Harb or the Territory of War.  The first included the community of believers as well as those who entered into an alliance with Islam.  The inhabitants of those territories were either Muslims, who formed the community of believers, or non-Muslims, those who belonged to tolerated religions who paid the Protection Tax (Jiizah) to Muslim authority.

The world surrounding the Islamic political community was known as Dar Al-Harb, because it remained beyond the pale of Dar Al-Islam.  It lacked the legal competence to enter into intercourse with Islam on the basis of equality and reciprocity.  Such territory may be regarded as “state of nature”, because it ruled to conform to Islamic legal and ethical standards.  Some Muslim publicists, especially Shaffi Jurists, devised a third temporary division of the world, called Dar Al-Sulh (Territory of Peaceful Arrangement) or Dar Al-Ahd (Territory of Covenant), giving qualified recognition to non-Islamic communities if they entered into treaty relations with Islam, on conditions agreed upon between the two parties.  The Hanafi Jurists, however, never recognized the existence of a third division of the world, arguing that the inhabitants of a territory concluded a peace treaty and paid a tribute, it became part of Dar Al-Islam and its people were entitled to the protection of Islam, because otherwise it would be part of the Dar al-Harb and object of Islam. (23)


The word JIHAD is derived from JAHD or JUDH meaning “ability and exertion”.  Jihad means the exertions of one’s power in repelling evil.  Jihad also means the using or exertion of one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation and this is of three kinds: the visible enemy, evil and one’s self.  Jihad is therefore far from synonymous from war.  However, Jihad is also mistakenly used to mean holy war or defensive war by western or even westernized Muslims as the only bellum justum in Islam.  This was shown as a misconception by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive (Jihad) with might and main, in God’s cause with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank, in the sight of God.

They are the people who will achieve salvation.” (9:20) (24)

Sir Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his commentary observed:

“Here is a good description of Jihad.  It may require fighting in God’s cause, as a form of self sacrifice.  But its essence consists in (1) true and sincere faith, which so fixes its gaze on God, that all selfish or worldly motives seem paltry and fade away, and (2) an earnest and ceaseless activity, involving the sacrifice (if need be) of life, person or property, in the service of God.  Mere brutal fighting is opposed to the whole spirit of Jihad, while the sincere scholar’s pen or preacher’s voice or wealthy man’s contributions may be the most valuable forms of Jihad.” (25)Fight (Jihad) in the cause of God
Those who Fight (Jihad) you
But do not transgress limits
For God loveth not transgressors
And slay them wherever ye catch them
From where they have turned you out;
For tumult and oppression
Are worse than slaughter
And fight them on
Until there is no more tumult or oppression
And there prevail Justice and Faith in God;
But if they cease, Let there be no hostility
Except to those who practice oppression. (11:190-193) (26)

Sir Yusuf Ali again commented on this verse that:

“War is only permissible in self-defense, under well-defined limits.  When undertaken, it must be pushed with vigor, but not relentlessly, but only to restore peace and freedom for the worship of God.  In any case strict limits must not be transgressed; women, children, old and infirm men should not be molested, no trees and crops cut down, nor place withheld when the enemy comes to terms”. (27)

He explained the universal practice of Muslims and their governments on the matter of war and peace.

“In general, it may be said that Islam is the religion of peace, goodwill, mutual understanding and good faith. But it will not acquiesce in wrong doing of its men will hold their lives cheap in defense of honor, justice and religion which they hold sacred.  Their ideal is that of heroic virtue combined with unselfish gentleness and tenderness, such as is exemplified by the life of the Prophet.  They believe in courage, obedience, discipline, duty and a consonant striving by all means in their power, physical, moral, intellectual, spiritual, for the establishment of truth and righteousness.“They know that war is an evil, but they will not flourish from it if their honor demands it and a righteous Imam command it, for then they know they are not serving carnal end.  In other cases, war has nothing to do with their faith, except that it will always be regulated by its humane precepts.” (28)

The verses of the Holy Quran on Jihad aside from the two cited above which numbers more than thirty (30) verses never used the word “Harb” or war but only “fighting.”

In my paper, I observed, that the whole breadth of Islamic history will prove that Jihad was never used as an instrument of conversion for truly, mankind has never witnessed religious tolerance as displayed by Islamic rulers.

The Holy Quran enjoins religious tolerance when, it commanded “There is no compulsion in religion, truth stands manifest from error.”

Historians and writers like J.M. Haydman, Joseph Schart, Nathaniel Shcmidt, Lamartine, Lipson, Dozy, Renan, Sir Allan Burns to name a few, credits Islam and its reign with the flourishing of intellectual and religious freedom for all.  No less than Arnold Tynbee, the greatest historian of our times said:

“Today the modern world stands in need of Islamic tolerance and universal brotherhood and the Muslim world has to play its role in the shaping of a harmonious and peaceful and happy destiny for the war-weary, tension tossed and ideology-torn world.” (29)


The first and most revolutionary change was the adoption of peaceful relationships among nations of different religions, modifying the classical principle of Jihad or a permanent state of war between Islamic and non-Islamic nations.  Muslims rulers started making treaties establishing peace with non-Muslim states extending beyond the ten year period provided under the sacred law.

The most notable instrument that formalized the peaceful relationship between Islam and non-Muslim states was the Treaty of 1535.  It not only laid down the principle of peace and mutual respect between Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent and the King of France but also offered it to other Christian princes who were willing to adhere to the treaty (Articles 1 and 15). (30)

The second fundamental change was the acceptance of the principle of the separation of religious doctrine from the conduct of external relations.  In Islam there was a separation of doctrinal differences from the conduct of external relations and to regulate external relations on a secular basis. This was later adopted in Christendom thereby giving rise to the principle of cuious regio, eius religo, first adopted at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which became the basis of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and which governed the relationship of the Christian states in Europe and later among the different faiths of the world. (31)

The third principle was the adoption by Islam of the principles of territorial sovereignty and territorial law necessitated by territorial segregation.  When the universal monocracy of Islam suffered a split in its body politic under changing conditions of modern life, the constituent entities emerged as fully sovereign and each sovereign tended to divert the mode of loyalty of men from universal to territorial concepts.  As a result, territorial segregation constituted an underlying factor for the gradual transformation of the nature of sovereignty from universal to territorial as well of the law from personal to territorial. (32)


In my thesis for the Bachelor of Laws Degree at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines in 1967 I stated that:

“Neither the League of Nations charter nor the Kellog-Briand Pact which renounced war as instrument of national policy or a defensive war substantially altered the classic doctrine of war that the states had an inherent right to go to war.“The charter of the United Nations has introduced a new doctrine on the use of force.  The preamble proclaim “that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest.”  And one of its purposes is “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end, take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of peace” – Article I (1).  These statements imply the abolition of war in a legal sense.  The only entity possessed of a legitimate power to use force is the Security Council which is authorized under the charter to “take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore peace and security.  Art. 42.

“The inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in case of an armed attack is preserved in the charter.  However, the exercise of the right of self-defense is merely in preliminary measure pending the exercise by the security council of its authority and responsibility to maintain or restore international peace and security. Article 51.” (33)

“The Muslim States having entered membership in the UN are bound legally by the charter.  From the point of view of Islam, there is no substantial conflict with the Islamic doctrine of Jihad because the purpose of Jihad is the establishment of peace and if peace is established by the UN then the purpose of Jihad is served.  Secondly, if aggression is committed on the Muslim state or states then the UN must enforce collective action or the Muslim states may declare Jihad on the aggressor.  Thirdly, the requisites for justum bellum under Islamic doctrines are satisfied by its Charter.

“Another modern illustration of Jihad was in 1947 when the UN created the state of Israel and partitioned Palestine.  The Mufti of Palestine declared Jihad and the Arab states supported Palestine in the Palestine War.  The intervention of the UN resulted in a truce and the rights of the Palestinians are still to be settled in the UN.  There is shooting war as of the moment and there is a state of war between the Arab states and Israel and tensions results in a continuing cycle of violence.  As of the moment no Muslim state has extended recognition to Israel except Egypt.

“Again, the India-Pakistan war resulted to the declaration of Jihad by Pakistan against India.  During the war between these two states, the Muslim states either financially, morally or actively supported Pakistan in her war efforts against India.

“The secularization of Muslim states have led to the secularization of Jihad and the acceptance of the UN concept of war as justum bellum under “modern” Islamic legal and ethical standards.  Muslim States submit disputes with other states to the UN for arbitration and mediation in accordance with its Charter for peace being the ultimate objective, Muslim states are bound to honor the covenant.  The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by US aided by the UK without Security Council approval is changing international law which effectively prohibits war under the UN charter except as a collective measure with the approval of the Security Council.  The US military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan will change international law on war.

However, the modern concept of total war which disregards distinctions between civilians and combatants and rendered the Hague Convention of 1907 irrelevant, is still not acceptable to Islamic legal theory.  This modern theory of war saw its application in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Under Islamic legal theory, the conduct of war is based on that noble principle forbidding the extension of warfare to harming non-combatants.  The rules decree against the killing of the aged, the young women, the handicapped, those who have withdrawn from life to worship and meditate, and those who have refrained from participating in battle.  The mass of workers, farmers, and tradesman-in other words, the civilians.  It is not lawful to kill civilians.  There should be cessation of hostilities should those whose death is not permitted be exposed to death between the ranks of the fighting forces.  However, this limitation on war action has been violated repeatedly by US and UK and justified under the pretext of collateral damage.  The use of massive bombings beyond enemy lines using guided missiles and bombs as the basic US strategy to maximize damage to enemy forces, utilities, transport facilities, radar and satellite systems, with the minimum loss of lives has changed the rules o warfare and caused more injuries and death civilian populations than the soldiers as seen in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.” (34)


The establishment of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1971 operationalized the unification of the Muslim World initially constituting the Muslim States but with declared intention to support the Muslim Communities or Minorities who constitute over 400 million of the 1.2 billion Muslim World populations.  Some of these Muslim Minority Communities are ancient nations and Kingdoms like those in the U.S.S.R., China, Eritrea, Thailand, Cyprus and the Philippines and their respective populations and territory are much bigger than many Muslim states.

In 1972, this author attended the 2nd OIC Foreign Ministers Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, submitted the petition of the Bangsa Moro against the genocide by the Marcos regime. He also had long discussions with H.E. Tenghu Abdulrahman Putra, First Secretary General of the OIC and the late Libyan Foreign Minister Saleh Bouyaser, one of the drafters of the OIC charter.

In these talks, the said leaders revealed that the late King Faisal Bin Abdulazziz of Saudi Arabia worked for the establishment of the OIC to promote the unity of the Muslims to act as a world force and the Islamization of the Muslim States in order to safeguard the purity of Islam and its institutions and to encourage Muslim societies to modernize within the framework of Islam.  The struggle of Islam against Zionism, Fascism, Colonialism and Anti-Islamic ideologies can only be won through the unity of the Ummah based on Islam.  Further, the Muslim States collectively can protect and support the rights of Muslim Minorities. This has been consistently confirmed by the Islamic Summit of Heads of States.  However, it has been short on implementation because of disunity among Muslim States caused by superpowers domination of some Muslim States.

It established the Islamic Solidarity Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, Red Crescent, the Islamic New Agency, and the Institute for Technical Cooperation, the Federation of Muslim Chambers of Commerce and Industries, etc.  It has also formulated a common stand in world issues before the United Nations, the non-aligned movement, the Organization of African Unity, ASEAN and the Arab League.  The Muslim States have emerged as one of the most powerful bloc in the UN and the world as shown by their unity on the oil embargo of 1973; the support for PLO and Palestine; the support for the Afghan Mujahiddin; the boycott on South Africa; North South Dialogue, the New World Economic Order and other major issues.

The OIC has also declared strong support for the Muslims in Eritrea, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and particularly the Bangsa Moro in the Philippines.  They have given humanitarian assistance to all Muslim Communities and made representation to USSR, Europe, U.S.A., Canada, China on the rights of Muslim minorities.  Its position is that, “violation of the rights of Muslims anywhere in the world is a legitimate concern of the Muslim States”, representing the collective will of the Muslim World through the OIC.

In the Iran-Iraq war, the OIC heads of states and governments created a committee of head of states to mediate between the parties and they continued these efforts in all forms up to the UN Security Council until finally, the cessation of hostilities was achieved.

In the present crisis in the Gulf States when Iraq invaded Kuwait and annexed it, the OIC condemned Iraq’s action and conforms to UN Security Council resolutions.  However, it did not support US actions in sending forces to Saudi Arabia.  It supported an Arab multi-national force and mediation by Muslim States between Iraq and Kuwait – Saudi-Arabia.  The OIC also did not support the war against Afghanistan and Iraq. The acts of US are beyond the Security Council’s resolutions.

The OIC became marginalized in the US led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the war in Palestine. The Acts of US are beyond the RP-US Security Council Resolutions. This situation led to militancy and birth of the Muslim Jihadist movements in the Muslim world as a reaction to the failure of OIC and Muslim states to be defenders of the Ummah and the Muslims.

Dr. Julkipli Wadi in a paper on the Islamic Ummah in the 21st Century commented on the new emergence of US as the sole Superpower on the Muslim Concept of the Law of Nations as well as the Doctrine of Jihad.

“The politicization and subsequent trans-nationalization of Islam is a product of long-standing rivalry between Arab nationalism and pan-Islamic source of political system and framework of development in the Arab world provided opportunity for pan-Islamic groups to claim support and legitimacy from marginal sectors of Muslim society.  It is reinforced by the failure of Arab nationalism to get rid neocolonial vestiges in the Middle East and other parts of the Islamic world.  The sway of Islamic movements is brought about with the eclipse of reform movements in Muslim dominated areas and secessionist groups in non-Muslim dominated areas.  Since the Afghan war in the 80’s these two strands of struggles had forged strong linkages with each other.  It thus appears that the neo-Islamic struggle is global making their target not only their immediate enemies, e.g., Arab/Muslim and Christian dominated governments, but the very source of global hegemony (e.g. America) and all the symbolism it represents (e.g. capitalism, power).  Taking cue from the fact that it is useless to engage in petty acts of violence in their respective locales, they thus catapulted their struggle by making a big signature in the heartland of American power as shown on September 11.  What they simply needed was their will.  Their capability came second.  And, ironically, it was the knowledge and technology of the United States that they used to destroy the symbol of economic and political power of the United States.  If there was a lesson learned by Islamic movements is that, if you want to be heard, you’ve got to elbow a major power.  Yet, one has to be ready of being branded as a terrorist, fundamentalist, and all those sort of labels even by their fellow Muslim brothers unfortunately.  And finally one has to contend the wrath of the Superpower and the international coalition against terror.Implication

The rule of the game of international politics has indeed changed.  The event last September 11 shows the fragility of the world today.  If a big power like the United States can become a subject of intimidation by what it considers as an “enemy that hides in the shadow” what more Third world countries including the Muslim world?  Surely, the Muslim world, its dynamics and politics will be the subject of international controversy in the years ahead.  The sense of historicity by a wide array of many Muslim struggles is now supplanted by over rhetoric on terrorism.  The line thus between legitimate political struggle and terrorism has turned blurred. (35)



18 Abbas, Datu Jamal Ashely   Hermeneutic Interpretation for the Bangsa Moro Issue
Bangsa Moro Review Internet Magazine, December 2002

19 Mercado, Eliseo, Interview by Economic Intelligence Review, MindaNews Website, May 4, 2003

20 Abbas, Macapanton, Jr. International Relations in Islam, Institute of Islamic Studies, UP, Diliman, Roundtable Discussions on Islamic Studies, UP, August 19, 1990

21  Khadduri, Masjid, War and Peace in Law of Islam, 1962
22  Ibid. Khadduri
23   Ibid. Khaduri

24  The Holy Qur’an, Chap.9 verse 20
25  Ali, Abdulah Yusuf  Translation and Commentary of the Holy Qu’ran, Parachi Press,
Pakistan, 1949
26 Op-cit. Chapter 11, Verse 190-193
27 Op-cit. Comments of Yusuf Ali English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran,

28  Op-cit. Yusuf Ali
29  Op cit  Abbas, Macapanton Jr.
30  Proctor, Harris, Islam and International Relations, London: Pall Mall Press, 1965
31  Ibid. Proctor
32  Ibud.. Proctor
33  Abad Santos, Cases in International Law, 1966
34  Abbas, Macapanton, Jr., “Jihad and International Law”; Thesis, College of Law, University of
the Philippines, 1967
35 Wad, Julkipli  A paper presented during the Muslim Youth congress sponsored by the
National Youth Commission at the Executive Plaza Hotel, Malate, Manila, 27 October 2001