March 2013


Doctrine divides, Action unites

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The Relevance of the Jabidah Massacre on Today’s
Peace Initiative for Mindanao 45 Years Later

Mindanao Peoples Caucus

On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre (please see for information about the massacre), the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) calls upon the Bangsamoro people to unite and close ranks at this most critical stage of their political struggle as a distinct people with a proud history in Mindanao. More than ever, it is time to set aside ideological and political differences and move together in order to establish the Bangsamoro government as agreed in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government of the Philippines. This can only be achieved if the Bangsamoro leaders will set aside personal interests and move their people towards a common direction that will usher in the dawn of freedom and sustainable development.

After the brief euphoria over the FAB, those who stand to lose in the transition period and in the incipient Bangsamoro government have lost no time in preventing and derailing the transition period from setting in. It is difficult to comment on the bandwagon of the Sabah issue because their interlocutors in the media already have a template on how to spin the story. Much as we condemn the killings and the backlash against the Tausug diaspora in Sabah, it is hypocritical on the part of some leaders to be so vocal about the human rights violations in this much coveted resource-rich island and yet remain silent on the rampant human rights violations committed against their own people in Sulu.

How many of these leaders, for instance, have questioned the declaration of the state of emergency in Sulu? How many of them have publicly denounced the private armies, warrantless arrests, warlordism, corruption, violence, gang rapes and ID system perpetrated in Sulu by their despotic leaders? Human rights violations are committed without any indication of slowing against the Tausug under their very own corrupt and abusive politicians, yet we hardly hear the same outrage calling for blood and a call to arms from those who are now drumbeating the war against Malaysia. Many of the Tausug have managed to flee to Sabah to escape from the militarization, violence and massacres in Sulu only to be abused and violated again in the land to which they fled. As we condemn the human rights violations in Sabah, let us not forget to condemn the violations happening within supposedly the seat of the sultanate in Sulu itself.

It is so sad to see some sections of the Moros again becoming willing victims of the classic divide and rule tactic designed precisely to prevent the birth of a Bangsamoro government and thus perpetuate the status quo of control and domination of imperial Manila. Without casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Sabah claim, what is highly suspect is the unholy alliance of strange bedfellows who have all trooped together to support the Kirams of the Sulu sultanate, not for the sake of the Sabah claim itself, but for their own selfish political interests, foremost of which are the agenda of the local politicians in the Bangsamoro areas who are threatened with the FAB but could not seem to oppose it because they could not openly defy Malacanang. It is also suspect why so-called progressive groups which are fighting against feudalism and imperialism are supporting what is clearly a remnant of an undemocratic, feudal, master-slave structure that perpetuates the undue privileges of a royal few at the expense of the masses within Moro society.

Before we start the bandwagon of claiming Sabah, the MPC strongly reminds the Moro leaders to protect the gains of the political struggle and the peace process by rallying behind the establishment of a Bangsamoro government in Mindanao. Let us not lose sight of the strategic political opportunity that is being offered in the peace process. Let sobriety and patience build and secure the gains of the Moro martyrs who have offered their previous lives for the Moro struggle. We call on the Philippine government and the MILF to fast-track the negotiations on the annexes to the FAB so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission can already begin its important work. Let us not be swayed by venomous call for blood and war against a neighboring country, Malaysia. Let us remain steadfast and consistent on the principles of dialogue and active non-violence in resolving conflict as we condemn human rights violations in Sulu, Sabah, Mindanao and anywhere in the world.

We extend our support to President Benigno Aquino III in his unprecedented gesture of commitment and political will to put a final closure to the armed conflict by addressing the legitimate struggle of the Bangsamoro people for self-governance and self-rule within a recognized and delineated political territory. Let us not allow the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) debacle from happening again enroute to Sabah.

The Mindanao peace process has been a long, enduring marathon. We are already into the final homestretch of the race. Let not the desperate move of the spoilers sidetrack us from moving towards the finish line. The martyrs of the Jabidah Massacre sacrificed their young lives and promising future by refusing to fight against fellow Muslims in neighboring Sabah. In their youth and innocence, they defied the orders of their military superiors in Corregidor, guided only by the basic tenet of unity of the Islamic ummah, which includes their brothers and sisters in Sabah. Let us remember and honor their martyrdom by delivering genuine merdeka, or freedom, for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

* The Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) is a grassroots network of indigenous peoples, Bangsamoro and Christian communities and leaders who have a common vision for peace in Mindanao. MPC, established in 2001, has stood up for the struggle to resolve the age-old armed conflict in Mindanao through a negotiated political settlement that is acceptable to both negotiating parties and that addresses the historical oppression and forced marginalization of the native inhabitants and indigenous peoples of this island. It is actively working for the strengthening of the participation and engagement of its grassroots constituency in the Mindanao peace process so as to allow their recognition as self-determining peoples who can develop and govern themselves in the economic, political, social and spiritual spheres of their lives.