“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy.
It is recalled that the continuing 4-decade Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao was designed by the Philippine Commonwealth regime of President Manuel L. Quezon, who proudly declared the colonization and occupation of the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan (MINSUPALA) with the enactment of the draconian law National Assembly Legislative Act No. 4197 otherwise known as the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act.
Years later after the presidential terms of Sotero Laurel, Sergio Osmena, Sr., Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who wanted to become Chief Exe-
cutive for life and even “king” of North Borneo (‘Sabah’), ignited and sparked the genocidal Mindanao war by malevolently scheming the secret training of Bangsamoro Tausug Muslims in Corrigidor Island for the invasion and occupation of Sabah. The clandestine military training under Philippine Air Force (PAF) Major Eduardo Martelino was exposed to the whole world when the Muslim trainees mutinied once knowing the real dark motive. But they were mercilessly massacred by AFP officers except for one survivor, Jibin Arola, who revealed the dastard crime to the whole of humanity through local and international media. Thus, the massacre event day – August 18, 1968 – is observed by the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao as the time the criminal Marcos government declared and started the Mindanao war. And this particular dark event lead to the foundation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari, Vice-Chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Al-Ustaj Salamat
Since the outbreak of the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao in late 1960s, the MNLF-launched Jihad Fi-Sabilillah (Armed Struggle in the Way of Allah) or freedom struggle was morally based on regaining the independence and national self-determination of the oppressed Bangsamoro people of Filipino-clonized Mindanao. But this was toned down later on to complete autonomy for the sake of Mindanao peace that was initially negotiated in Tripoli, Libya in 1976 by both the Philippine Marcos government and the MNLF with the active participation of the OIC that forged the “historical” December 22, 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement. Nonetheless, the Marcos dictatorship betrayed Mindanao peace when it strategized to divide the MNLF leadership and ground freedom fighters. The Marcos regime unilaterally put in place two region fake autonomous government – Region 9 and 12 – that was outright rejected by the MNLF and OIC because it did not conform to the letter and spirit of the negotiated peaceful settlement based on the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement.
Consequently, the succeeding Aquino government engaged again the MNLF into peace dialogue, highlighted by the meeting of President Corazon C. Aquino and Chairman Nur Misuari in Jolo, and succeeded to ink the February 17, 1987 Jeddah Accord based on the principle of the previous 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement. However, peace again gave way to war when the agreement was not implemented, but instead the Aquino government shrewdly established the bogus 4-province Autonomous Government in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The next Ramos government again convincingly initiated peace talks with the MNLF and successfully conducted exhaustive peace negotiations for more than three years in Indonesia and in the Philippines. The peace parley lead to the signing of the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements in Malacanang Palace, Manila. The Philippine Ramos government proceeded to establish the peace agreement by creating through presidential decree the 13-province and 9-city Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and together with ARMM as a political component was offered to the MNLF for direct administration while the correct and complete implementation was being worked out.
However, the next Philippine administration, never mind the short-lived Estrada watch, but the Arroyo dispensation decided again to betray the MNLF and Bangsamoro people by dividing the MNLF leadership with the creation of the so-called Moro National Liberation Front- Executive Council composed of 15 leaders, who were promised government positions and financial dole-outs. The MNLF core leadership and gaosbaogbaog (solid mass supporters) considered this group as “Malacanang National Liberation Front-Easy money Currency (MNLF-EC15)” because this was only used by the Arroyo government to undermine and discredit MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and to pursue the Philippine government’s colonial interest to apply for OIC observer status. This is despite the fact that the Manila government have full knowledge that the MNLF is the official representative of the oppressed Bangsamoro people of Filipino-colonized Mindanao and is enjoying OIC “Permanent Observer” status. Simply put, the Arroyo government did not pay attention at all to the 1996 peace agreement and instead established the new 5-province ARMM crafted by Philippine Congress despite the concrete inputs and formal protest of the MNLF.
On this end, MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and steadfast leaders decided to abandon the administration of ARMM and decided to resume the original objective of freedom struggle to regain independence for Mindanao. In the general meeting of all members of the MNLF central committee, state chairmen, political, military, religious and committed mass leaders in Zamboanga City sometime on April, 2000, the MNLF assembly formally proclaimed a peaceful struggle for Mindanao independence and spontaneously selected MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari as president and the MNLF Peace Panel Spokesman, Reverend Absalom Cerveza, as Prime Minister of the would-be established Bangsamoro Republik.
However, the peaceful declaration of Mindanao independence did not sit well with the Philippine colonial government. The colonial AFP occupation soldiers provoked a war in Jolo as the MNLF Chairman was scheduled to leave bound for Jeddah to report the latest events to the OIC Secretary General.
MAHATHIR REGIME’S TREACHERY
Thus, following the usual backdoor route, Chairman Misuari departed from Jolo to pass by Sabah, but unexpectedly he was apprehended by the Malaysian authorities on direct order from Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamad. It was revealed by a reliable source that the Malaysian Prime Minister complicitly conspired with the Arroyo government to create the MNLF EC15 in order to diminish the effective and strategic role of Chairman Misuari as a Tausug MNLF leader. The Malaysian Prime Minister, who have been denying helping the MNLF freedom fighters and hosting Chairman Misuari in highly confidential meetings in the past, cannot just convince the MNLF Chairman to compromise on North Borneo or Sabah as part of Malaysia’s sovereignty. Thus, to block the usual free passage of the MNLF Chairman in travelling and reaching the
Middle Eastern countries with no hassle and difficulty, the Mahathir regime this time arrested him and his 6-man entourage on malicious “illegal entry,” whereas before his entry and exit in Sabah is facilitated by Malaysia’s intelligence service, Special Branch, which is directly under the Prime Minister’s office.
While being detained by the Mahathir government in Malaysia, Atty. Ely Velez Pamatong, who served as legal adviser to the MNLF Chairman, rushed to Kuala Lumpur to file a writ of habeas corpuz compelling the Malysian government to release the MNLF Chairman from illegal detention. This was after submitting the Bangsamoro people’s petition for independence from Philippine colonialism to the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations (UN) in New York. However, although without extradition treaty, the Mahathir regime decided to turn over Chairman Misuari to the Arroyo government to face rebellion charge and to suffer imprisonment for almost five years until release for lack of material evidence and strong pressure from the OIC. While the MNLF Chairman was imprisoned, the OIC proposed for the formation of a tripartite ministerial committee to review the 1996 peace agreement so as to be properly and correctly implemented. The proposed diplomatic and legal mechanism somehow anchored the continuing peace process and prevented any big scale war from happening similar to the present bloody Filipino-Moro war in Zamboanga City.
ACTUAL CAUSES AND DESTRUCTIVE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE ON-GOING AFP-MNLF WAR IN ZAMBOANGA CITY
It is now a matter of historical fact that the large scale war inside Zamboanga City between the AFP soldiers and MNLF freedom fighters could have been averted before hand had the Aquino government exercised even only an elementary courtesy in respecting the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements. But in its bid to please the Malaysian government now under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for mysterious reason, the Aquino government embarked on deceiving the Bangsamoro people and humanity that Mindanao peace was easier to reach by supporting the Malaysia-brokered peace talks between the Philippine government (PGH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and coming out with the framework agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB). Apparently, the Aquino government have belittled the 58-nation Organization of Cooperation to find a peaceful comprehensive solution to the Mindanao problem and that Malaysia alone can do it.
On one hand, by banking strongly on Malaysia to solve the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao, it is highly suspicous that the Aquino government have not compromised for monetary and material considerations the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB) and Philippines’ Sabah claim that until now remain unresolved as characterized recently by the SSNB-Malaysia war in Lahad Datu, Sabah. Underscoring on the Lahad Datu incident, Malaysia had showed its capacity to destroy human lives at the expense of harping on sovereignty over disputed North Borneo or Sabah that until now is considered by the Sulu Sultanate and the Tausug Muslims as their historical property but leased only to a private British company. Malaysia until now is paying the measly annual rental of M$5,300 to the Kiram family heirs and legitimate claimants. But on this other volatile issue, the Aquino government have shown more backing for the Malaysian government rather than to the historical rightful owners, who have given authority to the Philippine government to reclaim Sabah for the benefit of both the Filipino and Bangsamoro peoples.
It is also quite strange why the Aquino government want to claim that the cosmetic ARMM is the by-poduct of the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements when it is a common knowledge that the “failed experiment” ARMM, following his claim, was manufactured by his mother’s government only to hoodwink people and humanity that there is in place an autonomous government for the Muslims of Mindanao. The MNLF and the 1996 peace agreement have nothing to do with the farsical ARMM as it was only unilaterally created by the Philippine colonial government to serve as a “cheating capital” of Philippine elections and a liquidation agency for the corrupt national bureaucratic officials, who have the habit of stealing people’s taxes like the “pork dealers” of Philippine Senate and Congress.
WAR ZONE ZAMBOANGA CITY IS NOW A CASE OF DEVASTATING HUMANITARIAN DISASTER
On the present endless Zamboanga City war, which today has pictured the Aquino government as another Marcos-and- Estrada-type regime that capitalized more on military solution and “all out war” to solve the colonial Filipino-Moro conflict in Mindanao rather than peaceful comprehensive solution, it is just now a sorrowful state of devastating humanitarian disaster.
It is reported that more than 25,000 families and more than 120,000 individuals have been reduced into hapless evacuees seeking refuge in the city central grandstand and two other evacuee centers. Zamboanga City business centers have reported billion losses everyday and unstable condition as the commercial operators cannot concentrate on business operations for fear of sudden hostilities because the city may virtually become a war zone. Death and injury casualties are every day mounting as the media, quoting only AFP source, have reported more than 100 dead and wounded, including MNLF freedom fighters surrendering, but cannot be independently verified.
CASUALTIES AND KIDNAPPING REPORTS
From the MNLF source, gathered from an insider mole, it is interestingly noted that as of the 10th day city war, AFP Camp Aguinaldo has listed, “503 dead, 741 wounded and 63 ‘war shock’ (awl/deserter) soldiers.” This does not include yet the casualties of the following days, like 1st Lt Michel Rama and two other soldiers, who were reportedly killed by MNLF sniper on the 12th day war, and so on. The mole insider even conveyed the message of, “almost the entire AFP soldiers inside the camp have been sent to the war zone”…”It’s like Vietnam!”
On MNLF surrendering as reported by the media sourcing from AFP, the MNLF source particularly observed the 23 MNLF freedom fighters with the ‘tsinelas’-wearing commander who were brought on a big bus to the city by the Zamboanga City OIC Chief Police Chiquito Malayo, who was initially reported “kidnapped”, “abducted” or “seized”. It was later found out he was not kidnapped, but he was sent to Mampang on an AFP mission to pick up the 23 Basilan paid-followers, disguised as MNLF members, of ARMM Governor Mujib Hataman, who is also in tandem with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) in giving positions and financial dole-out to the MNLF-EC15 group that is today used by the Aquino government for cheap propaganda.
CLOSE UP CAUSE OF THE AFP-MNLF WAR IN ZAMBOANGA CITY
It cannot be denied now that the Zamboanga City war could not have happened at all if the city government only heeded the wisdom of effective leaders, like John F. Kennedy, Fidel V. Ramos and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. In the first place, no sane democratic leaders would have forbidden the fundamental right of people to a peaceful assembly. It is now observed and analyzed, disputing any government alibi or justification, that the direct cause or powder keg that ignited the AFP-MNLF war was when the government blocked the supposedly peace rally of the MNLF members and mass supporters, who came to Zamboanga City from all over the nearby provinces, including far away Palawan. Worse, the MNLF members and supporters were not only allowed to a peaceful assembly in support of Mindanao independence, but they were also harassed by the government authorities and some were arrested and even jailed for a crime of wishing to participate in a peace rally. Yet, peace rallies were conducted in Jolo town and Davao City and no untoward incident occurred because the MNLF members and supporters were given leverage to their right to peaceful assembly. But not in Zamboanga City under Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco, daughter of former legendary Mayor Cesar C. Climaco, who was loved and admired by the Muslims not only Zamboanga City, but the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi because of his just, democratic and firm leadership. Thus, this incident compelled the active MNLF freedom fighters and militant mass supporters from nearby islands to enter the city to come to their aid and rescue leading to the immediate shooting war. MNLF reinforcements from Jolo followed after two days of heavy fighting transforming it into a big scale war.
UN, OIC, EU, INDONESIA, HUMANITARIAN NGOs AND CONCERNED CLERGY AND CITIZENS CALL FOR CEASEFIRE AND PEACE
On the 4th day of the AFP-MNLF war, Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin took the initiative of striking ceasefire talks with MNLF Nur Misuari by telephone. The Vice President and MNLF Chairman were classmates before in the University of the Philippines (UP) and somehow has mutual trust with each other. The peace efforts could have ended the war on the 5th day, but the ceasefire move was torpedoed by President Benigno S. Aquino III and DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas for obvious reason. Vice President Binay and Secretary Roxas are bitter political rivals and of two different political camps. Yet the call for peace and the immediate end to the worsening war situation has been raised by the United Nations (UN), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), European Union (EU), Indonesia (being the principal arbiter MNLF-GRP peace talks), major humanitarian non-government organizations, church groups and civilian peace advocates. Nonetheless, the alarming concerns did not move the Aquino government, but instead issued a strongly worded “no ceasefire” and “surrender or die” statements published by the media.
Thus, the AFP-MNLF war inside Zamboanga City continued and extracted more number casualties, burning of houses in the five communities and growing number of civilian evacuees in the declared refugee centers
Today, “Zamboanga is bleeding,” observed the military general-president turned statesman, Fidel V. Ramos, who is proud to have contributed tremendously to Mindanao peace by engaging the MNLF freedom fighters to peace talks rather than word war, and most importantly, inviting MNLF to the path of peace, not to the thorny road of war. In media reports, he is trying to reach out to the Aquino government reminding the Filipino leaders that in the case of peace and war, the government should not be “divided” and the need to “put the house in order” and furthermore “not to play with people’s lives.” As a learned, experienced and decorated military veteran, his discription of battle and war is a substantial food for thought for the Filipino colonialist leaders, “you may win a battle, but not a war.” But seemingly nobody is listening.
HOW CAN ONE KILL AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME?
In similar vein, since the Aquino government now have clearly shown no respect for the September 2, 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreement and have chosen war by adopting military solution instead of peace and peaceful solution for the Mindanao problem, the MNLF freedom fighters wish only to convey a simple message to the Aquino government that there is nothing most precious to them than fighting and martyrdom for the sake of freedom and independence of the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.
They also wish the world to know that if the war-mood Aquino government hope to kill all MNLF freedom fighters in Zambonga City and elsewhere in Mindanao, they can never hope and suceed to kill an idea whose time has come. Freedom and independence for Mindanao.
“REBELLION” CHARGE VS. CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
After personally overseeing the war in Zamboanga City for a good number of days, President Aquino returned back to Manila without an end to the AFP-MNLF blood-letting. The Aquino government have made a pronouncement to charge “rebellion” in Philippine court the MNLF Chairman and the rest of the MNLF leaders, who have presumably participated in the Zamboanga City battle. On the other hand, the MNLF have also the option to take formally the case of Philippine colonialism to the highest international court for whatever decision because it is about time that the Philippine Aquino government will be charged with a crime against humanity dealing on continuous colonization and occupation of Mindanao and looting its natural resources.
Finally now, it is seen that the ember of war is again aflamed in Mindanao, the ancestral homeland of the Muslim and Animist Lumad natives. Having been for many years now immorally colonized by the Filipinos, they have surely witnessed cruelty and savagery of weak Filipino leaders and have experienced suffering and agony inflicted upon them by the colonial Philippine military occupation soldiers. On this light, there is now again a need to prepare for war if the present Aquino government have shifted from achieving “just and lasting” peace in Mindanao into engaging in genocidal war similar to the past Estrada and Marcos regime.