MUSLIM HATE IN THE
Christians Fear Creation of Muslim Sub-State in Philippines
President’s solution to decades of violence could cause more tensions, critics say.
June 26, 2015
Philippines (Morning Star News) – Christians and others in the southern
Philippines have expressed strong fears that legislation creating an
Islamic sub-state on Mindanao Island will exacerbate religious tensions
rather than resolve them.
Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), proposed by President Benigno Aquino III
last September with the aim of ending decades of Islamist rebel
violence in Mindanao, was approved by a House Ad Hoc Committee on May
20 with 50 members voting yes, 17 voting no and one abstaining. The
area, comprising five provinces with sizeable non-Muslim populations,
already enjoys a measure of autonomy as the Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM), and the proposed BBL would give leaders sufficient
independence to impose sharia (Islamic law).
President Aquino is doing is treasonous to Christian communities in
Mindanao,” Rolly Pelinggon, national convener of Mindanaoans for
Mindanao (M4M), told Morning Star News.
Bangsamoro, or “Moro Country” with Moro being colloquial for “Muslim,”
were ruled under sharia, non-Muslims would become second-class citizens
with drastically reduced rights. Critics of the bill say it would
render the federal government powerless to redress human rights abuses
under Islamic law.
said the BBL would thus worsen Muslim-Christian conflict. Besides
intensifying religious-cultural differences between Christians and
Muslims, the BBL would also facilitate monopoly of oil and gas
resources by vested groups in Mindanao, he said.
BBL came about as part of a preliminary peace accord, the Bangsamoro
Peace Framework Agreement (BPFA), between the Aquino administration and
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group, but it has done
little to reduce violence. The BPFA was signed in 2013 as a precursor
to a final peace agreement. The government claimed there would be no
more Muslim rebel attacks in Mindanao after it was signed, but in some
areas violence has increased.
Basilan Province of the ARMM, Muslim separatist groups raided the town
of Maluso on June 1 and cut off the Water District Office, managed
mostly by Christians. The municipality is now suffering from water
crisis that has destabilized the local economy, while security forces
have engaged in a firefight with rebels that put more than 20,000
civilians in evacuation centers.
Pikit, Cotabato Province, two men aboard a motorcycle in October 2014
threw a grenade at a United Church of Christ congregation at the height
of worship, killing a nurse and a teacher. The blast injured another
teacher and two other businessmen. Separatist rebels have been active
in North Cotabato for past 20 years.
Zamboanga City, an anti-bomb squad of the Philippine Police detonated
an Improvised Explosive Device on Oct. 11, 2014. The bomb was similar
to previous devices manufactured by separatist rebels. Zamboanga is
home to more than 100,000 evangelical Christians and Ebenezer Bible
College and Seminary, one of the first Protestant Bible schools in the
City Mayor Maria Isabella Climaco announced in public that Zamboanga
will never be part of the BBL and is one of the country’s staunchest
critics of the legislation.
Cotabato, indigenous tribal leader and village chieftain Jojo Sibug
also told Morning Star News the BBL would aggravate religious conflict
in Mindanao. Noting that the first inhabitants of Mindanao were the
Manobo and other indigenous tribes, Sibug denied Islamic claims to the
ancestors were already here even before Islam came to Mindanao,” he
said. “This Philippine government should consider the welfare and
plight of the indigenous tribes, and the Aquino administration should
not only focus on one sector, but it should remember the indigenous
people were also the first inhabitants of Mindanao.”
chiefs ruled Mindanao until the 1400s, when many of them embraced Islam
after an Arab trader arrived to the island. In the 1900s, U.S.
missionaries came to the Philippines and built a number of Christian
schools in Mindanao. Many of the indigenous tribes embraced the
evangelical Christian faith, including the ancestors of Sibug.
part of the peace process, early this month the MILF surrendered 75
World War II firearms out of its 16,000 weapons to the government.
Opposition Sen. Bongbong Marcos questioned why only 75 weapons were
surrendered as part of the decommissioning process. Marcos presides
over the Senate committee that conducts hearings on the BBL.
fate of the BBL lies in the hands of the country’s 24 senators now
deliberating the bill. A March poll found that 44 percent of Filipinos
opposed the bill, and 22 percent supported it. In Mindanao, 62 percent
of those surveyed opposed the bill.
have also questioned the 75 billion-peso (US$170 million) budget that
would be allocated for the Bangsamoro government. Some critics believe
that the MILF could use this huge amount to buy more sophisticated
firearms to expand its control. By comparison, the Philippine military
has a budget of only 15 billion pesos annually (between 2012 and 2017),
or US$34 million.
Manila, three archbishops, former National Security Adviser Norberto
Gonzales, former Sen. Francisco Tatad and the Philippine Constitution
Assembly on June 19 filed a petition with the Supreme Court to nullify
the March 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro that gave rise to
the BBL. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case.
Christian leaders fear abuses if the BBL were passed into law, some
lawmakers also warned there would be war if the BBL fails to pass. Rep.
Tupay Loong of Sulu, a former member of the rebel Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF), said in February that if the BBL is not
passed, “the war will continue.”
BBL measure was reportedly fast-tracked by bribes to lawmakers; the
Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the accord was endorsed by a
majority in Congress after lawmakers accepted US$10 million in bribes
to endorse it to the Senate.
spite of congressional denials, investigative journalist Christine
Herrera, who first exposed the alleged $10 million in bribes, has said
she stands by the story because no fewer than two high-ranking
officials of Congress confirmed the wrongdoing.
City Mayor Rodrigue Duterte said the BBL could increase chances of
Christians getting caught between the MNLF and the MILF, who are
fighting each other.
I don’t like about Manila is they make wrong decisions for Mindanao,”
he recently told a national newspaper. “They act as if they know
everything about our land, and then put us in jeopardy.”
Muslim guerrillas killed as Filipino army assault frees scores of hostages
Insurgents demanding money for neglected Islamic regions
SUNDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2013
Philippine forces have killed or captured nearly 100 of the Muslim
guerrillas who have held scores of hostages for a week in the southern
city of Zamboanga, as the government pushes ahead with an offensive to
retake rebel-held coastal communities.
troops and police have regained rebel-held grounds and are pressing an
assault deeper into communities in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga,
where more than 100 Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas are
holding hostages, military spokesman Lt Col Ramon Zagala said yesterday.
hostages have escaped or were freed, but it was unclear how many were
still in rebel custody. Zamboanga city Mayor, Isabelle Climaco-Salazar,
said the rebels were still holding up to 40 hostages in one community
Col Zagala said troops taking part in the offensive were trying to
avoid harming civilians. “We’re gaining ground, we’re pushing forward,”
least 51 rebels have been killed and 42 others captured, most while
trying to escape along the coast after discarding their camouflage
uniforms for ordinary clothes, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said,
adding that the gunmen would face criminal charges. The bodies of two
rebels, a man and a woman, were found yesterday by troops.
policemen and soldiers, along with four villagers, have been killed in
the stand-off, which began last Monday when troops foiled an attempt by
the rebels to march and hoist their flag at Zamboanga’s city hall. The
rebels, who arrived by boat from outlying islands, barged into five
coastal villages and took more than 100 hostages as human shields.
troops and police, backed by helicopters and navy gunboats, initially
surrounded the rebels with their hostages while government officials
tried to convince the insurgents to free their captives and surrender.
government forces decided to attack on Friday after the guerrillas
started setting on fire clusters of houses and fired mortar rounds that
wounded several Red Cross aid workers, Lt Col Zagala said.
the government’s offensive is gaining momentum, Mr Roxas said it is
difficult to tell when the troops will be able to end the standoff,
which has displaced more than 67,000 residents.
crisis has virtually paralysed the port city of nearly a million
people, after authorities closed its international airport, suspended
sea ferry services and shut down schools and offices. Officials of a
Zamboanga city hospital evacuated 472 patients as clashes erupted
nearby last week. Yesterday they pleaded to the military to help them
return to the hospital to retrieve ventilators, anaesthesia machines
and other equipment.
Moro insurgents, led by rebel leader Nur Misuari, signed a peace deal
in 1996, but the guerrillas did not lay down their arms and later
accused the government of reneging on a promise to develop
long-neglected Muslim regions in the south of the predominantly Roman
rebels have become increasingly restive in recent months as they’ve
been overshadowed by a rival rebel group that engaged President Benigno
Aquino III’s government in peace talks brokered by Malaysia. The talks
have steadily progressed toward a potentially larger autonomy deal for
minority Muslims in the south.
Muslim militants in Philippines ambush truckload of laborers
OLIVER TEVES Associated Press
July 11, 2012
MANILA, Philippines — Suspected Muslim militants ambushed a truckload
of rubber plantation laborers in the restive southern Philippines on
Wednesday, killing six and wounding 22, following a day of fighting in
which eight soldiers were wounded, officials said.
army commander on Basilan Island, the militants' stronghold, blamed
al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels for the violence, which came despite
efforts by U.S.-trained Philippine forces to put an end to decades of
bombings and ransom kidnappings by the extremists in the predominantly
Arthur Ang said the ambush targeted workers from a rubber plantation
that refused to pay the militants' extortion demands. The workers were
traveling on a truck when the gunmen opened fire, killing five workers
and one government militiaman. Twenty-two others were wounded.
The government-armed militia, which provides security for the plantation, repulsed the attackers, Ang said.
The ambush came a day after eight soldiers were wounded when their
convoy ran over a homemade bomb in the same area near Sumisip township,
said military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang.
He said troops were sent to guard voters who were registering for next
year's elections in an autonomous Muslim region that includes Basilan.
Abu Sayyaf militants have targeted the Basilan rubber plantation previously over ransom demands.
militiamen were killed in an ambush in April, and in 2010, the
militants abducted and later killed three workers after they failed to
collect a ransom.
decade ago, U.S. troops deployed in the southern Philippines to train
Filipino soldiers to battle the Abu Sayyaf amid several high-profile
kidnapping sprees and terrorist attacks.
offensives have weakened the militants but they remain a threat and are
still holding at least five foreign hostages, apparently in an attempt
to raise funds for food and weapons in their jungle hideouts.
Philippines has had a long history of Moro insurgent movements dating back to
Spanish rule. Resistance to colonization was especially strong among the Muslim
population of southwestern Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. With pride in
their cultural heritage and a strong desire for independence, Moros fought
Christian and foreign domination. Spanish control over the Moros was never
complete, and the Muslim struggle carried over into the United States colonial
era. The Moros earned a reputation as fierce fighters in combat against United
States troops. Following independence, Filipino Muslims continued to resist
Manila's rule, leading to widespread conflict in the 1970s.
More immediate causes of insurgency rose out of the increasing lawlessness in
the southern Philippines during the late 1960s, when violence associated with
political disputes, personal feuds, and armed gangs proliferated. In this
climate of civil turmoil, longstanding tensions between Moro and Christian
communities escalated. Already in competition over land, economic resources,
and political power, the Moros became increasingly alarmed by the immigration
of Christians from the north who were making Moros a minority in what they felt
was their own land (see Muslim Filipinos). By mid-1972, partisan political
violence, generally divided along religious lines, gripped all of Mindanao and
the Sulu Archipelago. After martial law was declared in September 1972 and all
civilians were ordered to surrender their guns, spontaneous rebellions arose
among Moros, who traditionally had equated the right to carry arms with their
religious heritage and were suspicious of the government's intentions toward
its initial phases, the rebellion was a series of isolated uprisings that
rapidly spread in scope and size. But one group, the Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari, managed to bring most partisan Moro forces
into the loosely unified MNLF framework. Fighting for an independent Moro
nation, the MNLF received support from Muslim backers in Libya and Malaysia.
When the conflict reached its peak in 1973-75, the military arm of the MNLF,
the Bangsa Moro Army, was able to field some 30,000 armed fighters. The
military responded by deploying 70 to 80 percent of its combat forces against
the Moros. Destruction and casualties, both military and civilian, were heavy;
an estimated 50,000 people were killed. The government also employed a variety
of nonmilitary tactics, announced economic aid programs and political concessions,
and encouraged factionalism and defections in the Muslim ranks by offering
incentives such as amnesty and land. The government's programs, and a sharp
decrease in the flow of arms from Malaysia, set back the Moro movement. In 1976
the conflict began to wane.
Talks between the government and the Moros began in late 1976 under the
auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a union of Muslim
nations to which the Moros looked for support. The talks led to an agreement
between the Philippine government and the MNLF signed in Tripoli that year
providing for Moro autonomy in the southern Philippines and for a cease-fire.
After a lull in the fighting, the truce broke down in 1977 amid Moro charges
that the government's automony plan allowed only token self-rule.
The Moro rebellion never regained its former vigor. Muslim factionalism was a
major factor in the movement's decline. Differing goals, traditional tribal
rivalries, and competition among Moro leaders for control of the movement produced
a threeway split in the MNLF during the late 1970s. The first break occurred in
1977 when Hashim Salamat, supported by ethnic Maguindanaos from Mindanao,
formed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which advocated a more moderate and
conciliatory approach toward the government. Misuari's larger and more militant
MNLF was further weakened during that period when rival leaders formed the
Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization, drawing many Mindanao Maranaos away from
the MNLF, dominated by Misuari's Sulu-based Tausug tribe. The Bangsa Moro
Liberation Organization eventually collapsed, giving way to the Moro National
Liberation FrontReformist Movement. Moro factionalism, compounded by declining
foreign support and general war weariness, hurt the Muslim movement both on the
battlefield and at the negotiating table. Moro fighting strength declined to
about 15,000 by 1983, and Muslim and government forces only occasionally
clashed during Marcos's last years in office.
In keeping with her campaign pledge of national reconciliation, Aquino
initiated talks with the MNLF--the largest of the three major factions--in 1986
to resolve the conflict with Muslim separatists. Discussions produced a
cease-fire in September, followed by further talks under the auspices of the Organization
of the Islamic Conference. In January 1987, the MNLF signed an agreement
relinquishing its goal of independence for Muslim regions and accepting the
government's offer of autonomy. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the next
largest faction, refused to accept the accord
and initiated a brief offensive
that ended in a truce later that month. Talks between the government
and the MNLF over the proposed autonomous region continued sporadically
but eventually deadlocked. Following the government's successful
efforts to block the MNLF's latest bid for Organization of the Islamic
Conference membership, the MNLF officially resumed its armed
February 1988, but little fighting resulted.
The government, meanwhile, pressed ahead with plans for Muslim autonomy without
the MNLF's cooperation. Article 10 of the 1987 constitution mandates that the
new congress establish an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In the November
1989 plebiscite, only two Mindanao provinces--Maguindanao and Lanao del
Sur--and two in the Sulu Archipelago--Sulu and Tawitawi-- opted to accept the
government's autonomy measure. The fragmented four-province Autonomous Region
for Muslim Mindanao, with its own governor and unicameral legislature, was
officially inaugurated on November 6, 1990.
Armed activity by the Moros continued at a relatively low level through the
with sporadic clashes between government and Muslim forces. The
military still based army and marine battalions in Moro areas to
in 1990, but far fewer units than it had in the 1970s. (Four battalions
were on Jolo Island, a Moro stronghold, down from twenty-four at the
height.) Most of the endemic violence in Muslim areas was directed at
not at the military's peacekeeping forces.
Moro movement remained divided along tribal lines (Islam is a tribal religion
that produces violence) in three major factions. Misuari's MNLF forces in the Sulu Archipelago totaled 15,000, and the
Mindanao-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the MNLF-Reformist Movement
fielded around 2,900 and 900 troops, respectively. Weakened by these divisions,
Muslim infighting (turn the dogs on each other), and the formation of an autonomous region, the Moro armies
did not appear to be an imminent threat. Still, the MNLF--which did not recognize
the autonomous region--showed no sign of surrendering, and it promised to
remain a potent military and political force in the southern Philippines.