MILF’s Umbra Kato on YouTube

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Commander Umbra Kato is alleged by the government to be a “lost command” of the MILF and is being relentlessly pursued by the Philippine military.

In this video interview done on Sept. 23, 2008, Kato, who says he’s the Commanding officer of MILF’s 105th commans, insists that he is not a “lost command” and challenges the people who says he is to texplain or define what is “lost command.”

On July 1 of this year, he says, the soldiers invaded his colleagues who are “living silently in their own place”. He says that his friends simply fought back.

He accuses the military of terrorism, saying that driving people out of their place is a terrorist act. He says that they had to fight back because they have nowhere else to go. If they go to Luzon or Visayas (the other islands in the archipelago), the people of Luzon and Visayas would be angrier as they would not want them (Kato et al) to claim their lands.

Here, Kato is alluding to the basic cause of the conflict – the people of Luzon and Visayas have occupied Mindanao and now claims it for themselves.

The interviewer asked Kato why the government put a price on his head – 10 million pesos.

Kato answered that it is an indication that the government has already run out of tactics to employ against him. They (the military) used air strikes, artiller, ground forces with heavy weapons and armored vehicles. “But we are still here,” he says.

Putting a bounty on somebody’s head is an old tactic used by the “enemies of Islam”, Kato says. He explained that even the enemies of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) had put a bounty on the prophets head worth say, 100 camels.

When asked why the conflict escalated to other parts of Maguindanao, Kato answered that he thinks it has been the plan of President Arroyo to start trouble in Mindanao to justify the non-signing of the MOA.

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FOR MORO AGREEMENTS:PLEBISCITE FOR MOROS ONLY

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

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

TERRITORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLEBISCITE

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

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

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

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

WHO ARE THE MOROS?

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

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

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

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

NO MORE AGREEMENTS

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

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

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

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