AFP uses excessive force against Muslim communities

August 21, 2008

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


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


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


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


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


Two elements of the AFP were killed following their attack.


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


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

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

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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.