BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF BANGSAMORO STRUGGLE IN THE PHILIPPINES

Written by: DATUAN S. PANOLIMBA –North Cotabato, Philippines               

Bismillaher Rahmaner Raheem…Asalamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuho.

The struggle of the Bangsamoro Muslims of the Philippines for their right to self determination and freedom against foreigners domination is the longest and bloodiest struggle in the entire history of mankind in this world which extends to about four hundred eighty seven (487) years already up to this writing. First, the Bangsamoro Muslims fought, without let up, against the Spanish colonial power for 377 years from 1521 up to 1898.  Second, they fought a bloody war against the American imperialist for 48 years from 1898 up to 1946, and third, they  are still fighting against the Philippine neo- colonial power from 1946 up to the present.

But in that long period of glorious struggle was also planted and nurtured the seeds of Christian chauvinism which was to become a major aggravating factor in the present oppressed and exploited state of the Bangsamoro Muslims of the Philippines.

The gallantry and defenses of the Moro freedom fighters (Mujaheddin), have been maintained by them despite the immensely superior forces of the Spanish, American and Filipino invaders. Arrogantly considering themselves ( The Bangsamoro Muslims) as the rightful owners of the Philippine Islands before the arrival of Foreign colonizers in 1521, these aggressive foreign invaders  proceeded to govern in utter disregard of the right to self determination, freedom and independence of the Bangsamoro people.

Seeing Mindanao and its islands as a infinite source of raw materials, they proceeded to distribute lands in accordance with American colonial laws. Military power was employed efficiently to discouraged armed oppositions.  At first this was made up of U.S. troops, later of American-led Philippine Scouts and Philippine Constabulary.

Being now all colonial subjects, the people of Mindanao and its islands were treated as if they belonged to one nation, differing only in levels of development
and of culture. They did not of course hide their distaste for Moros and other tribal
groups whom they promptly labeled as uncivilized. Assimilation into one Philippine body politic was the main objective. Whether they were unconquered in the Spanish days or not, these people, the Moros and the Highlanders, were molded to become Filipinos.

There was widespread opposition to American rule from among the native inhabitants of Mindanao. For their part, the Moro people combined both armed and unarmed, protested to local and foreigners domination.

On at least two occasions, in 1921 and 1935, the top Datus of the Moro people
petitioned the U.S. President to treat them and their people differently from the rest of the Philippine inhabitants. But to no avail. They were assimilated into the Filipino nation and have remained so to this day.

With the creation of the Commission on National Integration (CNI) in 1957, the
status of the Bangsamoro people as cultural minorities was formalized.

But a people conscious of their right and dignity, nurtured by long years of struggle against Spanish incursions, succumbed only temporarily to external forces of dominations. Shortly, the fight to self determination was resumed.

In 1961, Congressman Ombra Amilbangsa of the Province of Sulu, filed a bill at the House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines seeking the separation of Sulu archipelago from the Philippine Republic. But sad to note, it was given no hearing in the Philippine Congress.

Seven years later, in 1968, Datu Udtog Matalam, Governor of the empire province of Cotabato created the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) seeking the separation of Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Palawan from the Republic of the Philippines and to establish an Islamic State in the sacred and ancestral homeland of the Bangsamoro people. But the dream and aspiration of the grand old man of Cotabato failed.

Finally in 1972, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)and its military wings, the Bangsamoro Army led by Prof. Nur Misuari went public declaring armed struggle as its principal instrument in the formation of a Bangsamoro Republik encompassing Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Palawan. It sought to liberate Moro people and homeland from Philippine colonialism.

The reverberating sounds of the firearms and mortars of the Bangsamoro Revolution led by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) pressured the Philippine government under the then President Ferdinand E.Marcos to entered into an agreement with the MNLF leadership in December 23, 1976. The agreement was known as “Tripoli Agreement of 1976″. It sought to establish an autonomous government for Muslims in South of the Philippines under its sovereignty and territorial integrity. But Pres. Marcos grossly violated the letter and spirit of the agreement.

When Pres. Corazon (Cory) Aquino catapulted to the presidency of the Philippines in 1986 because of the Peoples Power Revolution against Pres. Marcos, she created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but still failed to finally solved the Bangsamoro problem in Mindanao and its islands. Until in 1992,when Pres. Fidel V. Ramos became Philippine president after Pres. Cory Aquino, his government negotiated with the MNLF leadership which resulted to the creation of Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) in September 2, 1996. But still the Bangsamoro dream of freedom and independence became more obscure. It was because of the fact that all agreements entered by and between the MNLF and GRP are only a showpiece of the Philippine government in order to smokescreen the oppression, exploitation, colonization and extermination of the Bangsamoro people. This regional set-up of government is nothing but an adjunct of the Filipino colonial government. It is being used by the Philippine government to further fortify the Filipino colonialism over the Bangsamoro people and ancestral homeland.

So that when the MNLF leadership compromised the liberty and independence of the Bangsamoro people in December 1976, the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF), chaired by the late Ameril Mujahideen Ustadz Salamat Hashim went public assuming and leading the JIHAD FEY SABILILLAH of the Bangsamoro people for final liberation freedom and independence, NsALLAH SUBHANAHO WATAALLAH.

Late Ustadz Salamat Hashim, then Ameril Mujahideen and Chairman, Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said and we quote ” any solution less than full independence of the Bangsamoro people will not work. Past experiences since the beginning of the annexation of the Bangsamoro homeland to the Philippines in 1935, have proven that the Bangsamoro Muslims could not live a normal life under a corrupt and secular government and that the two nations, the Bangsamoros and the Filipinos, could not get along with each other because of their distinct religions, customs and traditions. It will be for the best interests of the Bangsamoros and the Filipinos if both are free” and quote”

Wasalamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuho.

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