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Ethnic Conflict Continued In Southern Philippines History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Since the Colonial era of the 14th century of Spanish and the American in the 19th. century the people of Mindanao or the Bangksa Moro have struggle to gain independence of Mindanao and Sulu, even until the Philippine independence in 1946 the struggle still unsolved will little success of partial ‘autonomy’ (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Macduff 2003: 195) in Mindanao inspire by the notably the Moro National Liberation Front MNLF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF and the more extreme of Abu Sayyaf or known to the Philippine Government as the Southern Philippines Secessionist Group SPSG

Ethnicity in Philippines, overview of what has happened in South Philippine.

Basically the conflict in south Philippine are mainly between the Muslim and the Catholic, it started in the colonial era of when the Spanish conquer came and conquer most of the island of Philippine and manage to Christianize the surrounding area and island and eventually Mindanao (the concentration of Muslim area) which they felt need to be Christianize but unsuccessful. the Spaniard develop strong sense of animosity between Muslim and catholic (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Mac duff 2003: 197)

The Spaniard devise ways to weaken the Muslim by destroying most of the Moro crop, an imbalance of whereby the Spaniards introduce school, learning institute in other region and non in Mindanao which create an intellectual gap as the Moro people felt that most of the learning skill are religiously buys

The situation worsens when Spanish loose the war with America in 1898 and ceded the whole Philippine island to America, where in fact Mindanao never came under Spaniard rule. The Moro people fought fiercely but loose to the American and by the Bate Treaty on 20 august 1899 The sultan of sulu give his right as well as his heirs of Sulu to the Americans (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Mac duff 2003: 198)

It worsens only with 1906 and 1913 battle which brought the region under direct rule of Manila. The government encourage non-Muslim from other region to migrate to Mindanao and they also provide loan for those who don’t have fund, back in 1902 the government introduce the land registration act and the 1905 public land act which provides that lands unregistered in previous years will automatically become public lands. These lands can be sold to Filipinos, and other people, regardless of nationality.

According to the act 1919, a Christian Filipino could apply for private ownership of up to 24 hectares of land while non-Christian could request only 10 hector. Further more government encourage foreign corporation to operate in Mindanao. (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Mac duff 2003: 199) This in turn increases the outrage of the Moro people to the government.

By 1920 in order to prepare the country for independence the American implement the Filipinisation where the administrative post are held by most of the Christian Filipinos, especially the areas governor. By 1940 the American abolish the sultanate completely (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Macduff 2003: 198) The struggle continued after the 2nd war for an independence Islamic state

The situation worsen in the era of the Marcos regime of 1960’s where is pass a law of taking over the legalizing the use of traditional land with reason of population resettlement and agriculture

Mindanao home to Bangksa Moro

Mindanao the second large island, it’s one of the three main island that made Philippines i.e Luzon & Visayas located in southern of Philippine with area 102, 043 sq kms which are more larger than Taiwan and Singapore

Actually the word Bangksa came from the malay word “bangsa” which mean People and the word Moro come from the Spanish which are “Moors’, it refer to the Muslims people the Spain encounter that they expel.

The Moro people become Islam due to the arab trader as well as the Muslim community that already establish at that time of Malaya and Indonesia which propagate Islam as that time within the 14th century

The Moro are multilingual ethnic group mainly non Christian, comprising 5% of total Philippines population in 2005. It’s the six largest ethnic group. Traditionally they are ruled by sultan in the old day. But nowadays in the modern world The Autonomist Region in Muslim Mindanao ARMM is headed by a regional governor and the regional-vice governor act as executive branch.

Bangsamoro covers the province of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, magindanao, Palawan, sarangani, south Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay, its also include cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, general Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princess and Zamboanga. (The Mindanao conflict (2010) :Moro (ethnic group)

Relation of the situation in Mindanao with the 5 main characteristic aspects of ethnicity

Symbols (group names and flags)


Both of the main independence movement have their own flag and names

Myth of common heritage. The strong believe of the glory of the sultan of Sulu and Maguindanao which rule Sulu and Mindanao as an independence kingdom around the 8th century (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Macduff 2003: 196)

Historic memories Through history the muslim in mindano have been oppressed by the colonist and even by the so called local colonist by the mass migration of non-Muslim Filipino especially the catholic to Mindanao

Shared cultural traits/habits the different in religion of the moro people with their other local catholic

Historic attachment to territory. The main factor for the struggle of the people of Mindanao is the ancestral land domain which were given to the other immigrant and foreign company.

Ethnicity profile of Bangksa Moro people, history connected to Brunei Malay Muslim

It is belived that in the Brunei goldern age period of the rule of Sultan Bolkiah the fifth sultan of Brunei i.e the 15th century. Brunei was particularly powerful during the ruling of Sultan Bolkiah (1473-1521). Sultan Bolkiah was especially famous for his sea exploits and even briefly captured Manila. Travel Guide (2010) : history of Brunei

Some of the word language and pronouncing are muchly similar to how the bruneian would pronounce it. Other evidance would be the name cotabato city (the name means “Stone Fort”) (Peter G. Growing 1979: 8) in Mindanao is similar as the Kota Batu area in Brunei which were constructed in the raign of sultan bolkiah.

Ethnicity profile of mainstream Philippines

Usually the Philippines main administration is in Manila govern by the presedent which mostly come from Luzon or central Luzon. The MNLF have manage to represent the Government of Republic Philippines GRP after the autonomy was given and misyuari was appointed as the first governor

Ethnicity refer to the different ethnic group in the exist within a state or several states, thus interaction with other ethnic group is necessary and unavoidable (Dr Jame Phil 2010 : slide 7)

History of conflict between MILF & Government and the split of MNLF and MILF

With the killing of Muslim military trainee by the Marcos regime or the Jabaidah massacre march 1968, the Moro people decided to form Moro National Liberation Front MNLF with main objective the complete liberation of Moro which attract many supporter as the consider it as a ‘Jihad’, they establish an armed wing, Bangsa Moro Army BMA where in the 1970’s they appoint a young graduate leader Nur Misuari’s. the violence and fighting become worst which lead Marcos regime to impose Martial Law in south Philippine in 1972, with the establishment of this law the MNLF manage to get the attention of the Organization of Islamic Country OIC, as well as manage to boost the MNLF image. The OIC send some representative to minister from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Somalia to visit Philippines in 1973.

The visit manage to persuade the Philippine government to sign a treaty called The Tripoli Agreement on 23 December 1976. The treaty will give an autonomous region to Mindanao (Rajat Ganguly, Ian Mac duff 2003: 204) consisting of thirteen provinces and nine cities, and in return MNLF must relinquish their demand of an independence separate state to the whole of Mindanao

Ceasefire only lasted until 1977 due to the unsatisfactory of MNLF on the autonomy region where the Marcos regime will chose for them. Misuari then went exile to Middle East.

Some of the MNLF followers are not satisfied with the deal given of a mere autonomy government, which some member of MNLF still wanted to obtain independence from the Philippines

With the breakdown of the Tripoli treaty it shaken the credibility of MNLF, which give rise to one of the chairman of foreign Affair Bureau Hashim Selamat, who is the second in command of Nur misuari, he than breakaway from the mainstream of MNLF with his follower to start his own orginasation of Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF in 1981 with the aim of fighting for an independence separate Islamic state, including custom, politic and ways of life, out of the Philippine colonial regime.

by 1987 the MNLF manage to accept the autonomy region given by the government which lead to the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao ARMM, where most of the member of the MNLF are given higher administrative post in the government (Cpt Donald AFP 2010) the MILF still does not agree with the autonomous region given, where they still continued their struggle

Are MILF terrorist or freedom fighter?

“The MILF is demanding democratic processes. Nobody in the world says that is terrorism. The MILF agreed to determine, lead and manage the rehabilitation and development programs in the war affected areas. No sound-minded person will say this is terrorism. If the MILF is fighting for independence, the USA also fought for independence as well as many democratic countries in the world. None of them are considered terrorists”. (Selamat Hashim,2005: ix)

Even talk of counter terrorism from the Australian embassy His excellence Mr Mark Soya former Director of counter terrorist department said the MILF is not a terrorist organisation

There is also conspiracy of the Armed Forces of Philippines AFP is mostly responsible of blackmailing the MILF by accusing them of doing kidnapping, ransom, where it will lead to the damaging of any peace talk between the MILF and GRP

Some say that the Abu Sayyaf Group ASG leaded by Abd Razak Jan Jalani were the more extream verson of the MNLF, who are more interested in using violence as the answer to solving crime, It is also said that the ASG may be come from the government itself (Cpt Donalt AFP 2010)

Since the killing of most of its leader the activity of the ASG become lesser and lesser, as usually who wanted to ster up to become the leader will eventually be killed afterwood , compare to their american missionary hostage situation back in 2002. Where the U.S. soldiers joint the hunt for them

The MILF retorated by declassifying some of AFP’s top secret documents implicating its high ranking officers including the generals in the dirty business of kidnapping, drug trafficking and gunning (Selamat Hashim,2005: 12)

The MILF stress that they condemning all kidnapping for ransom activities in Mindanao

(Selamat Hashim,2005: 11)

Natural resources of Mindanao

It believed to be rich in mineral resources of lead, zinc, ore, iron, copper, chromite, magnetite and Gold, mom metallic mineral include marble, gravel, clay, silica, sand, salt and limestone. Although possible oil deposit which it potential haven’t been explore yet, therefore it is call “the land of promise”

The land are good area for agriculture and the sea rich in source of fish, you will never get hungry in Mindanao (Cpt Donald AFP 2010: Interview)

Consider to be an important source of Philippine economic

International agencies effort

The OIC have manage to influence the Philippine government to give certain autonomy power to the Moro people, OIC even make the MNLF as an observer to the OIC meet, The European Union EU also plays important part in supporting the peace talk in Mindanao by the formation of the International Monitoring Team IMT consisting of Malaysia, Libya, Japan Brunei.

The modern Sultanate of Brunei also manage to contribute to the implementing peace in Mindanao where stated in the speech of the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam visit to Philippine early last year, where she expressed her gratitude in the participation of Brunei contingent in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) since 2004. It had help the implementation of the six years from 2003 cease fire and lessen hostilities. Between the government military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where Brunei will increase it involvement up to 30 personals and might head the IMT after Malaysia withdrawal (Borneo Bulletin Weekend. Published on Saturday Jan, 31 2009)

Factor of falls

The Philippine government still wouldn’t allow Mindanao independence, There are still conflict within the MILF itself with their sub unit is doing the war. Local mind set (pro MILF) certain areas are very hard to change, not in the short time as the situation go ways back to the colonial era. The government personal interest still come first then the people of Mindanao especially the Moro. the Abandon and richness of resources available in Southern Philippines where the government wouldn’t let it fall to the MILF. Disagree of conditions by both parties (GRP & MILF) cannot be agreed upon

Current situation

Granting independence to Mindanao which Philippine are unlikely to give, more favorable solution would be more autonomy power to MILF

Through the effort of the IMT manage to reduce some tension and manage to maintain considerable peace period

Solution of the conflict

The government should employ a different strategy of solving the issue by increasing the autonomy region of the Moro people, in return they can do a joint resources exploration as it is vastly rich in mineral resources and agricultural product, to better living condition and to respect and tolerance of practice of other religions as being practice else ware


New effort to stop the conflict (after IMT)

We have how or what is the cause of the Moro’s people uprising due to the ancestral land domain which were much ceded to the non-Muslim Filipino immigrant which lead to guerilla warfare style of uprising until they manage to be given an autonomy region, but the Moro people feel that its still not enough, they still want to form an independence Islamic Mindanao state and their struggle still carry on till now.

It can describe through the word of the late MILF chairman

“if this freedom cannot be achieved during my lifetime, I can assure you and I can assure everybody, that I have already planted the seeds of Jihad, I have already planted the idea of fighting for freedom in the harts of my people-the Bangsamoro people” (Selamat hashim (2005) “we must win the struggle”)

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