Pushing for Peace in Mindanao

0 Likes
11 comments

Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino has made an unprecedented trip into the country’s troubled south in a bid to speed up a tortuously slow peace process. The initiative comes amid an offensive to push out the Abu Sayyaf – the last Islamic militants in the south linked to Al-Qaeda.

Aquino made the historic trip to Sultan Kudarat, to the outskirts of the main camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Mindanao Island, where he said peace talks should be completed before his term ends in 2016.

Apparently friends had advised him not to go, as it was considered too dangerous. Aquino went anyway, saying there were still obstacles to peace and the Framework of Agreement on the Bangsamoro, struck last October. This framework aims to end a four-decade conflict that has cost perhaps 150,000 lives.

The agreement allows for an autonomous region, a homeland for the Muslim Moro people who have waged a separatist war against predominantly Christian Manila first through the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and later through the MILF.

The MNLF struck a peace agreement with Manila, but disgruntled members who were unhappy with the arrangements splintered and established the MILF, through which they continued fighting.

“We are near the fruits of our labor. This is not the time for our hearts to grow faint,” Aquino told an ensemble of Muslim leaders, diplomats and local residents. "We have just three years and four months left. We have to speed up everything we are doing now to make this permanent."

Connections between the MNLF, the MILF, Abu Sayyaf and the now defunct Jemaah Islamiyah were never tight and were based more on the need to coexist in very difficult and isolated terrain. But according to recent reports, the MNLF has turned their guns against the Abu Sayyaf.

This could be a game changer.

In one recent battle Abu Sayyaf gunmen clashed with MNLF forces, leaving at least 22 people dead in the mountainous jungles on the island of Jolo. The great hope among the Philippine and Western militaries operating in the area is that the MNLF can finally put an end to the widely-loathed Abu Sayyaf.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the trouble began when the MNLF embarked on an effort to regain their former dominance in the region by attempting to obtain the release of several hostages being held by Abu Sayyaf, including foreigners.

The MNLF attacked when Abu Sayyaf commanders refused to hand over the hostages.

Moro commander Khabier Malik told AP that Moro rebels were still trying to rescue the captives and end Abu Sayyaf's reign. Malik noted that the two groups speak the same language and live in the same jungles, but the MNLF would not allow the brutal Abu Sayyaf to rule any longer.

MNLF numbers are much higher than those of Abu Sayyaf and when push comes to shove their strategy could prove instrumental in establishing a broader peace deal in the southern Philippines. This would end opposition to peace within Abu Sayyaf ranks and help the MILF seal a peace deal with Manila in time for Aquino's re-election in 2016.

Comments
11
Raz
March 12, 2013 at 21:24

Schools, institutions and universities must be setup in those poverty-ridden areas. Right now, the populations in that area are socially and economically deprived, hence the use of violence to secure riches. They are basically jealous of their neighbours who are economically more advanced, therefore use violence to get money which they will spend to emotionally think they are superior. However, lack of education is what that created this simplistic thinking. The area they are living in is rich with natural resources. Because the population is not well-educated, they do not see the riches right under their noses.

When education opportunity is available to the younger generation, the parents will see this as the way out of poverty and will strive to keep their children educated. This process will slowly show them that violence is not the way out of poverty, knowledge is. The peace in Mindanao will only come with the next generation. Meanwhile, with this generation, efforts must be made for them to realize that their childrens education is more important.

Be Way
February 18, 2013 at 21:19

@Cyrus,

If you want to talk about politics, let start discussing about the origin of the nation called Philippines.

First as not to offend my fellow ASEAN Filipinos as they are our good neighbor for ages until lately where they unilaterally invited outside powers to interfere into ASEAN affair when ASEAN charter clearly stated that ASEAN is a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality.

Throughout the whole of South East Asia countries, all the nations except Philippines had long history of grand civilization. We have Angkor Wat from Khmer Empire, Burmese/Siam Empire, Majapahit/Sri Vijaya Empires in Indonesia and in Malaya, there is a Melaka Empire. The only nation that started with nothing before 1521 is Philippines and even then, there are not many nations throughout the world that not only the name of the country is derived from the colonial master but it was even formed and built up by them. Before the Spanish arrived, Mindanao and its surrounding Sulu Archipelago was ruled by the Sulu Sultanate who had long good friendly relationship with Imperial China as well as with the rest of its Muslim brethrens throughout South East Asia. The rest of the so-called Philippines was no more than thousands of Islands with tribal head-hunting natives inhabited on them. Further during 1417, the Sultanate of Sulu died while travelling in China during the Ming Dynasty. For lasting friendship, the Ming Emperor immediately commissioned artisans and sculptors to build a tomb for the deceased monarch, which still stands today.

 

Far forward to the present moment, if Aquino think that by granting autonomy to the Moros will help to gravitate him as hero to Philippines before he leave office in 2016, he is making a great mistake.    Autonomy without taking effort to develop the country especially the south, doesn't guarantee peaceful settlement of the conflict.   Instead of devoting himself to accelerate growth in Philippines, he spent all his time and effort creating more enmities and animosity towards China by alligning the country with facist Japan and warmongering America.  

Be Way
February 18, 2013 at 19:29

@James,

Can you please stop bringing in politics for a change. What I am trying to say is that with or without the blessing of little self-serving dalais or little fanatic osamas, China is still pushing ahead to develop both Xinjiang and TIbet for the sake of the majority of the natives there who welcome development. The record shows that China is capable of doing a good job in terms of uplifting the standard of living for the common people. Can't say that for the Philippines Government for sure.

Cyrus
February 15, 2013 at 23:56

Firstly because it is a Philippine Territory and there is also a very Christian presence in Mindanao the largest cities on Mindanao are Christian dominated. 

Secondly, Filipino blood have been spilled on the island since Spanish Times and why in the world would we be giving land to Malaysia or any other Nation?

Thirdly, the Moro cannot govern by themselves it can be seen with the ARMM which is a failure of governance no improvement economically, compared to Christian controlled areas like Davao or Cagayan.

 

Ilaga is a name of Christian militia in Mindanao who have been fighting against Muslim attacks on Christian settlements, it means that if the person is truly a member of Ilaga then he knows the dark side of the Moro's of Mindanao. It might not be all Moros who are savages and I would caution you Kababayan to refrain from generalization as it doesn't help the cause of Philippine Unity if you generalize our Muslim brothers.

 

Chinese Posers, do not forget about how you treat the Muslim Uighurs.

James
February 15, 2013 at 21:55

I am sure the PRC can control Tibet and China's muslim minorities  you can just shoot them if they protest  like what you did in Tainanmen Square. As for Malaysia it seems those thieves are about to have a revolt in Sabah.

Be Way
February 15, 2013 at 12:29

If Mindanao is so problematic, why not accede the island to Malaysia, Singapore or even to China.

1. Manila's incapability of developing its own country, what more Mindanao which is still suffering from severe widespread poverty even until now.   In this case, both China and Singapore have better opportunity to improve the living standard of the inhabitants.

2. The population of Mindanao is predominantly Muslim which will never be on good terms with Christian North.   Why not let Malaysia to administer the Island as being Muslim country itself, Malaysia has a better chance of success, dealing with their fellow Muslims

 

 

vic
February 15, 2013 at 08:33

If you keep calling the South tribal savages, then you got real problems.  The South can be really rich "savages" were it not for the Christian corruption up north.  Mind you, the South can stand on its own feet economically, whereas the North couldn't.

 

 

Cyrus
February 15, 2013 at 00:58

Mindanao cannot stand on its own, the ARMM can't even exist on its own without IRA.

Ilaga
February 14, 2013 at 13:30

Without Manila's management those tribal savages would butcher each other like animals! Clearly you no nothing about Mindanao. You dont live here you probably be kidnapped or killed. And whats with the CSS?

vic
February 14, 2013 at 09:37

Big fat hope of peace in Mindanao.  Mindanao wants full autonomy, nothing less.  The Moros want full independence, i.e. full government control without having to kneel down to Manila.  Mindanao is rich enough to stand on its own.  However, Manila needs the south, Mindanao.  Government competency in Manila has been grossly lacking since the days Manila gained independence from Washington.
#next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

 

Mr. Rebirth
February 14, 2013 at 01:29

President Aquino cannot run for reelection comes 2016 presidential election. The wordings of the 1987 Philippine constitution expressly prohibits his reelection. 

Share your thoughts

Your Name
required
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment
required

Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief