Igorot and Moro National Reemergence

The Fabricated Philippine State

Joseph E. Fallon

         Created in 1946 - the result of a series of negotiations conducted between Filipino nationalists and the U.S. government - the Republic of the Philippines is an arbitrary amalgamation of a multitude of diverse islands and peoples.
         This political entity is not a nation-state; neither is it a voluntary multinational association. Rather, it constitutes a new, post World War II, colonial order centered in Manila, and dedicated to the political and economic hegemony of the local Christian-Europhile community over the entire territory of the former American colony. That which separates the Philippines from all other multi-ethnic states in Asia is its unique nationalism.
         Although distinct Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Thai countries had emerged by the time of the onslaught of European imperialism in Asia during the late 19th century, there never existed a Filipino nation.
         While other heterogeneous Asian countries can seek to legitimate the existence of their states by declaring a continuity - however dubious - with indigenous kingdoms or empires that flourished in their lands before European domination, Filipino nationalists cannot.
         No single political entity ever ruled the entire archipelago, and those states which did arise to govern significant portions of these islands, including the area around Manila, were Muslim. Unlike other Asian nationalisms, for Filipinos history is an enemy, not an ally.

The Nations Within

         Filipino nationalism is an artificial, non-Asian construct with no existence prior to and separate from the Spanish invasion of 1565. The extent of its dependency on European colonialism for its very identity is seen by the nationalists embrace of The Philippines as the name for their country, a name given to the islands by the Spanish in 1542 in honor of King Philip II of Spain - a tyrant, and a racial and religious bigot.
         Originally, Filipino nationalism did not even seek independence for the Philippines but rather its complete cultural assimilation and total political integration into Spain. The goal was equal representation with "the other parts of Spain" in the Cortes at Madrid. To these Filipino nationalists, Filipinos were just eastern Spaniards, as Majorcans were western" Spaniards, as Andalusians were southern" Spaniards.
         Only when this aspiration failed to be realized did the objective of Filipino nationalists shift to political independence - but not to decolonize. If they could not be an integral part of Spain, then the Philippines would constitute a second Spain - one which would complete the hispanization of the islands.
         The commitment to this non-Asian identity is so intense that in 1962 then President Macapagal warmly embraced the suggestion of Spain's dictator, Generalissimo Franco, that the Philippines should initiate the creation of a political-cultural bloc consisting exclusively of states sharing a common Spanish- Catholic heritage.
         As a result, Filipino nationalists view the rest of Asia with ambivalence and as somewhat alien. Like Israeli and Afrikaan nationalisms, Filipino nationalism considers itself as culturally and spiritually separate from, and in fact superior to, the region and peoples in which it is geographically situated.
         The failure of the Philippines to develop into the Southeast Asian showcase for democracy and economic growth which was anticipated for it by both Filipino and U.S. politicians is a direct consequence of this nationalism. For the indigenous nations in the Philippines, especially, the Igorots and the Moros, this assumed nationalism has endangered their continued cultural and physical survival.
         A part of the Malay, or East Indian, Archipelago - which reaches from Southeast Asia to Australia - the Philippines consist of more than 7,100 islands with a total land mass of 115,831 square miles. Stretching 1,000 miles from north to south, these islands are commonly divided into three distinct regions: Luzon in the north (the largest island totaling 40,420 square miles) with the smaller islands to its north, Mindanao in the south (the second largest island with 36,537 square miles) and the lesser islands to its south in the Sulu archipelago - sometimes including Palawan, all the islands in between are collectively referred to as the Visayas.
         According to government estimates, the country's population numbers 56,808,000 (1985) with a projected annual growth rate of 2.5% (1983). This population is unevenly distributed throughout the state with the heaviest concentration and most rapid growth rate in central-southern Luzon and the country's urban areas. These constitute the heartland and strongholds of Filipino nationalism respectively.

Fifty Peoples and Three Loose Confederations

         The population is overwhelmingly Malay with significant Chinese, European, and indigenous Dumagat and Negrito minorities. This image of an apparent homogeneous Malay nation, however, is shattered by the reality of over 50 peoples speaking 90 languages and dialects, and professing rival religions: Christianity, Islam, and Animism. These three faiths have molded the disparate communities into not one nation, but three - Filipino, Moro, and Igorot, respectively.
         Among the Filipinos, eight peoples account for 90% of the total population. These are:

Cebuano The largest community, they are located in the central Visayas and eastern Mindanao.
Tagalog The second largest group, they're located in central Luzon and the Manila environs. Their language is the basis of the official state language, Filipino.
Waray-Waray Both are located in the central Visayas.
Ilongo These people are located on the northwestern coast of Luzon.
Ilocanos These people are located on the northwestern coast of Luzon.
Bicol They are located in the southern peninsula of Luzon.
Pampangan They are located in west-central Luzon.
Pangasian This group is located around the Gulf of Lingayen in northwestern Luzon.

         Of the 7 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines - groups which have not been Christianized or Hispanicized - the Moros and the Igorots are the two most important because of their numerical size, demographic concentration, and political organization.
         There are twelve peoples whose shared religion, Islam, and shared historical experience, persecution by Spaniards and later Filipinos, have formed a distinct nation called the Bangsamoro. But they are better known by the name the Spaniards gave them, Moros - meaning Moors or Muslims. Originally, Spaniards and Filipinos used the word Moro as a term of contempt for the Muslims of Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu archipelago.

"Moro," the Badge of Honor

         Moro was a synonym for barbarism and inferiority. Now it has become a badge of honor embraced by the Muslims to identify themselves and their nation.
         The Moros, who number between 2 - 5 million, consist of the following peoples with the first four communities representing 98% of the total population:

Maguindanaos "People of th Flooded Plain," one of the largest groups, they live along the Cotabato River in Mindanao.
Maranaos-Ilanun "People of the Lake," they are located around Lake Lanao in Mindanao. Historically, these Muslims hve been the most fragmented with numerous, small, rival sultanates and principalities the predominate political feature.
Tausaugs "People of the Current," they are located in the Sulu archipelago principally on the islands of Jolo, Siasi, Tapul, and Lugus.
Samals They are located in the Sulu archipelago primarily on the island of Tawi-Tawi. The Samals also inhabit protinos of Siasi, Jolo Laminusa, Tandubas, Tabawan, Unggus, Matata, Simuni, and the Tongkil group of islands.
Badjaos They are located in the Sulu archipelago and are called "Sea Gypsies" because of their migration from island to island in order to avaid conflicts.
Yakans They are located on Basilan Island.
Sangils They are located around the Gulf of Davao in southern Mindanao.
Malebugnons They live on Balabac Island.
Jama Mapuns They inhabit Cagayan Island.
Muslim Palawani They are located on Palawan Island.
Kalagan They reside around the Gulf of Davao in southern Mindanao.
Kalibugan They are located in western Mindanao around the shores of the Moro Gulf.

The Igorot of Luzon

         Igorot is a Tagalog word for "mountain people" and denotes the inhabitants of the mountains of central Luzon. Like the word Moro, Igorot had a derogatory connotation implying backwardness and cultural inferiority. And like the word Moro, it has become a source of pride to its members - designating an identity distinct from Filipino.
         Among the 800,000 Igorots, there are seven major peoples: Apayao, Tinggian, Kalinga, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kankanai, and Ibaloi.
         The ancestors of today's Igorots originally were low-landers who immigrated to the mountains of central Luzon centuries ago in two distinct waves. The first wave occurred before the arrival of the Spanish when people from the coastal lowlands went to the mountains in search of additional sources of food, and water, and for tradable commodities such as lumber and gold. Once there they stayed. The second and larger wave of immigrants arrived as refugees fleeing the Spanish conquest and subsequent rule.
         Despite repeated attempts over three centuries to conquer them, the Spaniards were never able to dominate the peoples of the mountains politically or culturally. During those centuries, while a Filipino political identity was in the process of being created, for the Christian low-landers, a separate identity was emerging among the mountain people. This political identity eventually was to adopt the label "Igorot."
         When the low-landers started their revolution again in 1898, the Igorots initially supported the Philippine independence movement. An independent Philippines appeared to offer an end to repeated military incursions into their mountain homeland, and to extend the promise of equality and respect for all nations.
         By its mistreatment of the Igorots, however, the Filipino revolutionary government quickly demonstrated that it was no different from the former, imperial regime. As a result, war broke out between the Igorots and the Filipinos, thus reinforcing separate national identities.
         War ended when the U.S. took effective control of the region in 1902, and expelled all Filipino revolutionaries from the mountains. Recognizing that a difference existed between the two nations, Washington officially established the Mountain Province for the Igorots by the Philippine Commission Act No. 1876 on August 18, 1912. The province consisted of seven sub-provinces delineated generally along national lines: Amburayan, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Lepanto.

         During the American occupation of the Mountain Province, the U.S. authorities opened new roads which aided trade and communications among the Igorots, established an elementary educational system, and introduced modern health measures.
         Despite these propitious beginnings, Washington failed the Igorots. The educational system became the monopoly of Catholic and Protestant missionaries from the U.S. and from Europe, and Education a pretext for religious evangelization. The Igorots were subjected to religious harassment at the hands of these "unrequested mentors."
         Worse was the decision by the U.S. government to deny the Igorots the right to national self-determination. The Igorots were to be a part of the Philippines regardless of their wishes. Washington assumed, erroneously, that Igorot rights and national identity would be protected by the legal existence of the Mountain Province. This was a legality which Washington also mistakenly believed Manila would respect. But Filipino nationalism is predicated upon the Filipinization of all tribal peoples, and the colonization of their lands. After obtaining home-rule under the Jones Law in 1916, Filipino politicians began to nibble away at the borders of the Mountain Province. During the 1920s, Manila's gerrymandering awarded Amburayan, and large parts of Lepanto and Benguet to the Filipino provinces of La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Abra.
         By the 1930s, Filipino politicians were attacking the very concept of the Mountain Province. Arguing that it endangered the "national unity" of the Philippines by politically unifying the non-Christian peoples of the mountains of northern Luzon, they demanded the partition of the Mountain Province.
         Supported by the recently elected President, Ferdinand Marcos, the opposition parties, and the church, Republic Act No. 4695 became law on June 18, 1966. By this legislation, the Mountain Province was partitioned into four, separate provinces: Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao, and a truncated Mountain Province. Later in 1972, after the declaration of martial law, Marcos further attacked Igorot unity by bifurcating these four provinces. With the proclamation of Presidential Decree Number One, Integrated Reorganization Plan, 12 larger, administrative units were created called Regions. Benguet and the rump Mountain Province were assigned to Region I, while Ifugao and Kalinga- Apayao were placed in Region II.
         By such gerrymandering, Manila sought first to effectively exploit the rich mineral deposits, such as gold, and the other valuable natural resources contained in the mountains. Secondly, these measures attempt to facilitate Filipino colonization of Igorot lands.

Aquino Government continutes Past Polices

         Despite repeated assertions that her government respects human rights, President Cory Aquino has not reestablished the Mountain Province within its 1912 borders. The Igorots remain divided among 4 provinces and 2 regions. Similarly, the President has not removed all the Filipino colonists from the lands of the Igorots.
         Unfortunately, Mrs. Aquino is no different from Mr. Marcos or any other Filipino nationalist. In their opinion, the Philippine state is for the exclusive benefit of Filipinos, and the best thing for tribal peoples to do is to assimilate as quickly as possible. Without consistent, external pressure being exerted upon Manila to allow the Igorots the right to national self-determination, the Philippine government - under Aquino or any other Filipino administration - will continue to dispossess the Igorots of their lands, their culture, their national identity, and their future.
         A thousand miles to the south are the Moros of Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago. For 400 years, these people have defended their homeland against foreign invaders - Spaniards, Americans, Japanese, and now Filipinos. Moro history dramatically reveals the illegitimacy of the "national borders" of the Philippines.
         Since they are a part of the Islamic World, the Moros can draw upon the solidarity of half-a-billion co-religionists and the political support of dozens of independent Muslim states. These are resources which the Igorots lack. To Manila, therefore, of all the tribal groups the Moros pose the most serious threat to the Filipino state.
         While the Igorots lived in remote villages scattered throughout their mountain homeland, isolated from the larger world, the Moros resided in powerful Muslim states with cultural and trading contacts stretching from Arabia to China.
         By the 16th Century, four Moro states had emerged: the Sultanate of Sulu, the Sultanate of Maguindanao, the Bauyan Sultanate, and the apat na Pangampong.
         Although each was a distinct political entity exercising sovereignty over specific territory, all four states were interconnected and interrelated by a common religion - Islam, by shared customs and traditions, and through intermarriage among the royal families.

Moros Test State's Borders

         The diplomatic and legal history of the Moros present the most immediate danger to the credibility and viability of the state's borders.
         During the Spanish-American War of 1898, all three competing powers - Aquinaldo's revolutionary government, the Kingdom of Spain, and the U.S. government - acknowledged that the Moros were not part of the Philippines.
         After the Spanish forces were defeated, hostilities erupted between the U.S. and Aquinaldo's army. In his search for allies, Aquinaldo's government - a body overwhelmingly Tagalog in composition with absolutely no representatives from Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago - negotiated, unsuccessfully, with the Moros for a military alliance against the Americans. By the act of these negotiations, as well as by the address of the appeal, Aquinaldo officially recognized that the Moros were separate from "his government" and from the Philippines.
         During the peace negotiations conducted between Madrid and Washington to formally terminate the war and resolve colonial issues, Spain - contrary to earlier pronouncements - officially declared that Moroland, Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu archipelago, was not part of her colony of the Philippines.
         Although the final draft of the peace treaty which Madrid did sign provided for the sale of the Philippines, including Moroland, to the United States for 20 million Mexican dollars, President William McKinley had doubts as to Spain's legal right to dispose of Moroland. He, therefore, instructed the Schurman Commission - the first U.S. government body to administer the Philippines - to investigate the legal status of the Moros. If it was determined that the Moros were independent of the Philippines, bilateral treaties were to be negotiated especially with the Sultanate of Sulu. A commercial treaty had already existed between the U.S. and Sulu since 1842.
         The result was the Bates Treaty. Negotiated between two, equal, sovereign states - the United States and the Sultanate of Sulu - the treaty was signed on August 20, 1899. This was eight months after the Treaty of Paris had been signed ending the Spanish-American War. By this document - which officially states that any subsequent changes to the treaty could only occur by mutual consent - Washington officially acknowledged that the Moros were not part of the Philippines and specifically guaranteed to respect the identity and the integrity of the Sulu Sultanate. In return, the sultan recognized U.S. sovereignty.
         On March 21, 1904, the U.S. government unilaterally, and illegally, abrogated the Bates Treaty. The sultan responded by officially expressing his surprise and sadness by Washington's action.
         The abrogation of the Bates Treaty provoked a war with the Moros which lasted until 1913. The subsequent Carpenter Agreement of 1915 by which the Sultan of Sulu formally relinquished all political authority was illegal as it was signed under American military coercion. This document, however, relinquished political power only to the United States government not to the Philippines.
         The army which the Moros placed in the field consisted of irregular bands. Although highly motivated - they were defending their families, their lands, and their faith - the Moros, unlike the U.S. forces, were ill-equipped, lacked effective leadership, and operated without any military or political coordination.
         Notable among the insurrections were those of: the Panglimas Hasan and Maharadja Andung in Sulu, the Datus of Maciu, Binidayan, and Taraca in Lanao, Mindanao, the Datu Ali in Cotabato, Mindanao, and the leaders of the Footmen Uprising in Palawan.
         Through a combination of superior firepower and "candy and chocolate diplomacy," the U.S. defeated the Moro guerrillas. Once pacification was achieved, Washington initiated programs designed to politically integrate and culturally assimilate the Moros into the Philippines.

1913 - The governing Philippine Commission was reconstituted with a Filipino majority.

1913 - The Moro Province which had been established in 1903 with an administration, budget, and constabulary separate from the Philippines was abolished.

1914 - The Moro Constabulary which was officiated by Americans and staffed by Moros was abolished.

1914 - Filipino colonists began to be settled in Moroland.

1915 - The Carpenter Agreement.

1916 - Washington passed the Jones Law (Public Act No. 240) which promised Filipino nationalists the future independence of the Philippines, including the Moroland, and provided for the establishment of local government by a Philippine legislature in Manila.

1916 - The new Philippine legislature, with no elected Moro representatives, extended all Filipino laws to Moroland.

1916 - The Philippine legislature uprooted the American administration in Moroland creating in its place governorships, judgeships, public prosecutors, a civil service bureaucracy, a constabulary, and an educational system staffed by Filipinos.

1916 - Using the power of confirmation conferred on it by the Jones Law, the Philippine legislature insured that only Filipinos were appointed government positions in Moroland.

1917 - Creation of the Bureau of non-Christian tribes under the direct control of Filipinos.

1920 - The department of Mindanao and Sulu abolished. American supervision of Moroland terminated. The Philippine legislature assumes administrative control of the Moros.

         The Moros reacted to these developments. On June 9, 1921, fifty-seven Muslim leaders met in Sulu and signed a petition which was addressed to Manila and Washington, D.C. After enumerating numerous acts of Filipino discrimination against Moros, the signatories formally requested that the Sulu archipelago be separated from the Philippines and annexed to the United States. The petition and grievances were ignored.
         Revolts against Filipino colonialism soon erupted: in Lanao in 1923, in Cotabato in 1923-24, and in Agusan in 1924. Between 1900-1941, there were 41 revolts throughout Moroland against first U.S., and then Filipino colonialism.
         In 1924, Moro leaders again appealed to Washington for redress and sent a Declaration of Rights and Purposes to the U.S. Congress. This document requested a separate political status for Moroland as an unincorporated American territory. It offered to hold a plebiscite 50 years after the Philippines had gained its independence to determine the wishes of the Moros. Under the proposed referendum, the Moros would be able to choose union with the Philippines, continuation as an American territory, or independence. Should the Philippines, however, be granted independence without first providing for Moroland remaining an American possession, the Moros would declare unilateral independence.
         Two years later the U.S. Congress officially had this declaration read into the Congressional Record.
         Responding to the mounting political violence - 124 conflicts between Moros and the Filipino Constabulary in seven years - Congressman Robert Bacon of New York introduced House Bill No. 12772 on May 6, 1926 calling for a separate political administration for Moroland, independent of the Philippines. This bill was defeated by the pro-Filipino lobby.
         In 1927, another Moro revolt occurred against Filipino oppression this time in Sulu. The U.S. Congress continued to ignore the underlying causes for the violence and addressed the matter as a "breakdown in law and order."
         In 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Law (Public Act No. 127) was passed by the U.S. Congress authorizing Filipinos to write their own constitution. In response to this law, 200 Moro leaders sent a letter to the Governor-General, Frank Murphy, dated July 13, 1934. In this letter, the signatories requested that in its deliberations the forthcoming constitutional convention formally respect Islam, protect Moro culture and traditions, honor Moro land rights, appoint Moros to government positions in Lanao, and preserve the development projects introduced by the Americans. If these requests were not embodied in the proposed constitution, then the Moros were not interested in being a part of the Philippines.
         A constitutional convention was duly held by Filipino nationalists who hand-picked all the "Mindanao representatives" to insure the proper appearance of "national consensus."
         At the same time, a rival Moro congress was held at Dansalan (Marawi City), Mindanao on March 18, 1935. One hundred twenty datus were in attendance. The Congress issued a declaration reiterating Moro opposition to being included in the Philippines. A formal letter was sent by the delegates to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt explaining the Moro position and officially requesting a separate political status for Moroland. Again, they were ignored.
         In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was formally established. Under the Quezon administration an escalation of Filipino colonization of Moroland commenced.
         Filipino objectives were succinctly stated in two declarations: The Organic Charter of Organized Land Settlement of 1935 proclaimed:

. . . land settlement work is the only government policy that will furnish effective solution to the Mindanao problem . . ., [and President Quezon's address to the First National Assembly on June 16, 1936 announced] . . . the time has come when we should systematically proceed with and bring about the colonization and economic development of Mindanao . . . .
         This resettlement program concentrated on dispossessing the Moros of the rich, fertile lands of Davao, Cotabato, and Lanao. A corollary to resettlement was the reduction, and eventually curtailment, of economic programs for the Moros initiated by the U.S. Future projects were for the exclusive benefit of Filipino colons. According to a 1971 report by the Philippine Senate Committee on National Minorities, no irrigation projects had been constructed in any municipality on Mindanao which had a Muslim majority.
         All of this provoked a five-year insurrection by the Moros of Lake Lanao - from June 1936 to 1941.
         At the same time, Manila launched a concerted attack on the legal protections which had been afforded the Moros by the U.S. government.

The Administrative Code for Mindanao and Sulu which permitted flexibility in the application of Filipino laws so as to respect Moro culture was abolished.

The Moro Board of the office of the Governor of Lanao which provided for the settling of Moro civil and religious disputes according to Islamic law and Moro customary law was abolished.

Official recognition of the titles of the Moro nobility [the community's civil leaders] was rescinded.

A State is Invented and Colonization Continues

         On July 4, 1946, the Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated with Moroland as part of the new state. Moroland consists of approximately 117,000 square kilometers or 38% of the state's territory. Manila now resumed the colonization of Mindanao which had been interrupted by World War II. The Hukbalahap Rebellion was defeated, in part, by Manila resettling landless Huks in Mindanao.
         In 1951, the Moros of Sulu, led by Mass Kamlon, revolted against Philippine rule. The insurrection lasted five years.
         Unsettled by this event, the Philippine legislature sought to resolve the Moro Problem once and for all. To this end, Republic Act No. 1888 established the Commission on National Integration with the stated purpose ". . . to render real, complete, and permanent the integration of said minorities into the body politic . . . ." This goal presupposed that all subordinate peoples, especially the Moros and the Igorots, shall eventually be forced to become Christian. The Commission did not resolve the Moro Problem. Tensions increased as Moros continued to seek national self-determination, and Filipinos continued to deny this to them.
         In 1961, Ombra Amilbangsa, a member of the Philippine legislature and, himself, a descendant of the sultans of Sulu, introduced House Bill No. 5682 which called for the reestablishment of Sulu as an independent country. The bill was rejected by the Filipino Congress.
         Later that same year, the Hajal Ouh Movement arose seeking to reestablish an independent state for the Moros of Sulu, Basilan, and Zamboanga by means of a war of national liberation. Before it could effectively organize, the government of the Philippines crushed the movement, killing the leader Hajal Ouh.
         The current phase of the Moro struggle can be traced to two events which occurred in 1968. On March 18th of that year, there was the Corregidor Incident in which the government of the Philippines murdered a number of Muslim army recruits - accounts vary between 28 and 68 - who refused to participate in Operation Merdeka or Jabidah. This was a top-secret project by which Manila hoped to end its territorial dispute with Malaysia over North Borneo (Sabah Province, Malaysia) by militarily invading and annexing the land. It was only because one soldier, Jibin Arula, survived and told his story to the opposition party governor of Cavite, Delfin Montano, that the public was made aware of the massacre. Investigations, which lasted until 1971, were conducted by both the Philippine legislature and the Philippine military. In the end, of the 23 officers indicted, none was incarcerated.
         In response to the Jabidah Massacre, two Moro nationalist parties were created: the Muslim (later renamed Mindanao) Independence Movement (MIM), and the Moro National Liberation Front (M.N.L.F.). Both organizations sought political independence for Moroland - Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu archipelago.
         The MIM was officially founded on May 1, 1968 by the former governor of Cotabato province, Datu Udtog Matalam. Although the movement claimed to speak for all Moros, it never expanded beyond the province of Cotabato. The failure of Matalam to organize MIM into an active, pan-Moro party or to develop a concrete political platform, lead to suspicions that the datu was using the movement as a bargaining chip with Manila to advance his personal career.
         Earlier in March a group of Muslim intellectuals and students residing in Manila had founded the Moro National Liberation Front. One of the founding members of the M.N.L.F. was Nur Misuari, the current chairman of the party. During the 1970s, the M.N.L.F. would emerge as the preeminent Moro military force and be internationally recognized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference as the sole, legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people.
         The second event which occurred in 1968 was the emergence of Filipino terrorists known as Ilaga, an Ilongo word meaning rat. Motivated by religious bigotry and greed, the Ilagas began to attack Moros with impunity. These colons viewed the Moros as an alien and inferior community who posed a danger to the Philippine state.
         Through acts of violence, the Ilagas hoped to accomplish several objectives: to retaliate against the Moros for demanding national self-determination, to intimidate the Moros into abandoning future political activity, to expel the minority Moro population from Filipino majority provinces in Mindanao, and most importantly, to dispossess the Moro majority elsewhere in Mindanao of much of their remaining homeland.
         The failure of the MIM to respond adequately to the llagas contributed to the final demise of that party. The M.N.L.F. reacted to the terrorism by preparing for a war of national liberation. This was launched on October 21, 1972 - shortly after Marcos had imposed martial law - with an armed insurrection in Marawi City. So successful were the guerrillas in seizing military control of the city, it took the superior firepower of the Philippine armed forces 24 hours to recapture the municipality.
         Although cruder and overwhelmingly more overtly violent, the llaga was a natural extension of official Filipino nationalism. Their terrorism was aided and abetted by 7 municipal mayors, 3 provincial governors, the Philippine Constabulary, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
         Just how intimate the relationship was between Manila and the llagas became apparent after Marcos declared martial law. While Moros were disarmed, the llagas were allowed to keep possession of their weapons and were quickly given official, legal status as the Civil Home Defense Force. By 1975, the now legally sanitized llagas (Civil Home Defense Force) numbered approximately 35,000.

Moro and Manila War for a Generation

         Since 1972 a war has raged between the M.N.L.F. and the government of the Philippines. In 1973, as the violence escalated, Muslim countries became increasingly concerned over the plight of their co-religionists. As a result, during the Fourth Islamic Foreign Ministers' Conference held in Benghazi, Libya in March of that year, the Organization of the Islamic Conference established the Quadripartite Ministerial Commission. This four power commission, consisting of Libya, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Somalia, was authorized to investigate the causes of the Moro War and to make recommendations to the O.I.C. on possible solutions.
         At the Fifth Islamic Foreign Ministers' Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June 1974, the O.I.C. formally adopted Resolution 18. This official document embodied the commission's conclusions: the causes of the Moro War were political, direct negotiations should be conducted between the M.N.L.F. and Manila, and the political settlement should provide for Moro autonomy within the framework of the Philippine state - not independence as had been advocated by the M.N.L.F.
         Under diplomatic pressure from the O.I.C., the threat of an oil embargo by Islamic oil producing countries, and an unsatisfactory military situation, the Marcos regime entered into negotiations with the M.N.L.F. The talks between the two belligerents were conducted in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during January 1975. They failed to reach an accord and were broken off. A second round of talks held in December 1976 in Tripoli, Libya produced the Tripoli Agreement.
         By this accord, the M.N.L.F., under pressure from the OIC, agreed to political autonomy within the Philippine state - not independence - for a Moroland much reduced in territorial size. The new borders comprised 13 provinces, instead of 22, or only 60% of the historic homeland of the Moros.

         The treaty was explicit:

A political autonomous Moro region was to be established consisting of 13 provinces in the southwest and all the cities and villages located within them (Paragraph 2).

The Moro autonomous region was to possess a legislative assembly and executive council (Paragraph 3, Article 9).

An administrative system (Paragraph 3, Article 5).

Its own financial and economic system (Paragraph 3, Article 6).

A separate Special Regional Security Force (Paragraph 3, Article 8).

The right to establish an educational system of schools, colleges, and universities (Paragraph 3, Article 4).

The right to Islamic courts (Paragraph 3, Article 3).

A provisional government was to be instituted to oversee elections to the legislative assembly and administer the region until the elected legislators had formed a government (Paragraph 3, Article 15).

During this transitional period, a mixed commission was to be created composed of representatives from the Philippine government, the M.N.L.F., and the O.I.C. to supervise an immediate cease-fire (Paragraph 3, Article 12).

         Displaying greater political skills than his adversaries, and more fidelity to his objectives than the O.I.C. demonstrated for the Moro cause, Marcos destroyed the Tripoli Agreement within four months.
         By publicly sowing confusion as to what were the exact terms of the accord, the President of the Philippines prompted further negotiations between his administration and Colonel Qaddafi and the O.I.C. These negotiations effectively excluded the M.N.L.F. from participation. By the wording of the resulting reaffirmations to the Tripoli Agreement, Marcos extracted "three clarifications" which doomed the accord to extinction. First, a referendum was to be held on the implementation of the Tripoli Agreement. Second, the agreed to Moro autonomous region became the autonomous regions of the Southern Philippines. Third, the President of the Philippines was to appoint the provisional government.

Moro Autonomy Non-Negotiable

         With these concessions, Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1628 on Declaring Autonomy in Southern Philippines. In conformity with this document, the President of the Philippines appointed all 7 members of the Provisional government including the M.N.L.F. representatives. Such an act was contrary to the understanding of the other parties and lead to the M.N.L.F. boycotting this puppet government.
         More ominous were the last paragraphs of the proclamation. They declared that the referendum would determine how the areas were to be administered. This was not in agreement with the letter or the intent of the Tripoli Agreement. Moro autonomy was nonnegotiable. Only certain aspects of the administration of the Moro autonomous region could be subject to a referendum - not the existence of the autonomous region itself.
         Manila assured both Qaddafi and the O.I.C. that the approaching April 17, 1977 referendum would conform to the Tripoli Agreement and ask only those specific questions agreed to by the contracting parties. Marcos lied. Most of the questions placed on the referendum were irrelevant and only encouraged anti-Moro feelings among the Filipino colonists.
         The referendum was held under government imposed conditions - hand picked provisional government and improper ballots - and not unexpectedly, Manila announced that 95% of the voters had rejected the Tripoli Agreement.
         Claiming to be implementing the results of the April 1977 referendum, however belatedly, Marcos proclaimed Presidential Decree No. 1618 on July 25, 1979. This decree abolished the Southern Philippine Provisional Government, established by the Tripoli Agreement, and designated Region IX and Region XII as autonomous Filipino - not Moro - political units.
         Even this autonomy, created and imposed by Manila, existed in name only. In its origin and purpose, it was similar to the autonomy proposed by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas for the Miskito, Sumo, and Rama peoples, and to that imposed on the Hmong by the Pathet Lao. It reserved specific powers including immigration (read: colonization) for the central government with the stipulation that the powers belonging to Manila were not limited to those enumerated. The powers of the regional governments were subordinate to and under the supervision of Manila. The President of the Philippines appointed one-quarter of the members of the legislative assemblies and all members of the executive councils.
         In the aftermath of the scuttling of the Tripoli Agreement, open dissension erupted within the ranks of the M.N.L.F. By 1982, several Moro Guerrillas had surrendered to the Philippine government including the vice-chairman, and one of the founders of the M.N.L.F., Abul Khayr Alonto. Dissatisfaction also produced political schisms and the formation of three, rival Moro (B.M.L.O.) was founded by the late Sultan Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman and has been supported by some elements of the traditional society. Dimasankay Pundato, a vice-chairman of the M.N.L.F., and a Maranao, established the M.N.L.F. - Reformist Group (M.N.L.F. - RG). After, unsuccessfully, attempting to depose Nur Misuari, a Suluano and chairman of the M.N.L.F., and Hashim Salamat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the M.N.L.F. and a Maguindanaon, founded the M.N.L.F. - Moro Islamic Liberation Front (M.N.L.F. - MILF). Circumstances persuaded these three organizations to enter into an alliance and establish a joint Coordinating Council.
         Whether as a result of war-weariness, personal rivalries, strongest and largest military force and the one recognized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference as the sole, legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people. the situation is in greater flux. Filipinos are now fighting among themselves - pro-Aquino, pro-Marcos, pro-military, pro- Marxist - for effective control of the state structure.
         In such circumstances the opportunity exists, or can be created, to realize Moro national self-determination. The obstacles remain formidable. Over the past 15 years, the Moros have endured horrendous losses in pursuit of this goal:

50,000 - 100,000 killed, mostly women, children and the elderly

200,000 - 300,000 homes and buildings burned

535 mosques demolished

200 schools destroyed

35 cities and villages completely razed

almost half the entire Moro population uprooted

100,000 - 200,000 Moro refugees in Sabah, Malaysia

an incalculable worth of physical and emotional damage

         The price of resignation, of submission to Manila, however, is much higher.
         For the Moro predicament is desperate and getting worse. At the start of the U.S. occupation of Moroland in 1913, the Muslims represented approximately 98% of the territory's population. Virtually all of the land at that time was owned or occupied by the Moros. As a result of half a century of intensive, systematic Filipino colonization, the Moros are now a dispossessed minority in their own homeland. They constitute only 40% of the current population (Filipino sources claim they are just 22%), own less than 17% of the land, most of it barren land in remote, mountain areas, and have had 80% of their people reduced to the status of landless tenants.
         Originally, the Moro Problem was referred to as the Southern Philippines Question. Today, it is described as the Southwestern Philippines Question. Tomorrow, it will be known as the Sulu Archipelago Question. Unless the Moros achieve national self- determination, they will no longer be a problem, or a "geographic expression." They will cease to exist as a nation.

To Preserve The Philippine State

         In the attempt to deny the Moros and the Igorots national self-determination, Filipino nationalists and their foreign supporters cite 10 reasons for the establishment, and subsequent preservation, of the Philippines within its post-1946 borders.

  1. The boundaries of the Philippines constitute internationally recognized borders which were officially delineated nearly a century ago during the colonial era.
  2.          This rational is a paradox. Philippine independence bases its legitimacy on a passionate repudiation of European colonialism, yet it ardently champions and defends the fruits of that colonialism, the territorial boundaries.

             The essence of this argument is that political borders are legitimate if they have been accepted by the world community of states.

             But, for its proponents, the logic of this position is self- defeating. For if international recognition confers legitimacy upon political borders, then all decolonization - including Philippines independence - becomes illegitimate. After all, the borders of the various, colonial empires had been accorded such recognition by their peers.
             If accepted as a general principle, this argument would deny national self-determination to Tibetans and Turkestanis, to Ukrainians and Byelorussians, to Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, to Irish and Kanaks. Each nation is part of a state, much against their wishes, whose boundaries are internationally recognized -- de jure or de facto -- by most states.

  3. Preservation of the Philippines existing borders is supported by Third World concepts of the sanctity of the territorial integrity of post-colonial states.
  4.          This belief has only been advanced by the Organization of African Unity in Articles 2 and 3 of its charter. According to this document, in any conflict between the principles of territorial integrity and national self-determination, the former takes precedence.
             This situation is unique to Africa and has no real bearing on Asia. Asia has no equivalent to the OAU or its charter.
             On the contrary, borders, more often than not, have been altered from their colonial boundaries. States have been enlarged, others reduced, and still others obliterated from the map.

             -- China invaded and annexed Tibet (1950), later seized parts of the disputed territory of Kashmir (1959-1962).

             -- India and Pakistan were established in 1947 through a dual process of partition and annexation. The British Raj was partitioned into two successor states, while the legally separate entities known as the princely states were annexed to either India or Pakistan.

             -- India annexed the French enclaves of Karikal, Mahe, Pondichey, and Yanam in 1954, the Portugese colonies of Dadra, and Nagar Aveli in 1960, and the last Portugese strongholds of Damao, Diu, and Goa in 1961. The Kingdom of Sikkim was annexed in 1975.

             -- India and Pakistan have fought two wars for control of Kashmir in 1947-48 and again in 1965. The result has been Kashmir's partition between the two rivals.

             -- The eastern wing of Pakistan seceded to form Bangladesh in 1971.

             -- Dutch New Guinea was transferred to Indonesian rule in 1963. East Timor was invaded and annexed by Indonesia in 1975.

             -- The British colonies on Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah, were united with Malaya to create the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. Singapore was expelled from the federation in 1965.

             -- The United Nations Strategic Trust Territory of Micronesia administered by the United States was partitioned into four separate political units -- Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Northern Marianas, and Palau -- during the late 1970s, early 1980s.

  5. The Boundaries of the Philippines form "natural" borders for they enclose a distinct, geographic archipelago.
  6.          The Philippines, however, do not form a single archipelago. It is part of the Malay, or East Indian, Archipelago which includes Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea as well as the Philippines. According to the logic of this argument, the states' borders should be expanded to include the entire archipelago -- islands, states, and peoples.
             The division of this archipelago in to various states was arbitrary based on European needs not "natural" criteria.
             A variation of this theme is to stress the "natural" compactness of the state. Yet the distance between Manila and Sibutu Island is almost the same as between Manila and Taipei. Should the Philippines, therefore, claim Taiwan, in part or in whole, as belonging to it?

  7. Strategic "choke-points" of several shipping lanes are located within the boundaries of the Philippines. The premise is that strategic points of international waterways are best placed under one political authority for security and efficiency.
  8.          This argument is without foundation for two reasons. First, as a general rule, choke-points of the world's shipping lanes are not within the jurisdiction of a single state.

    Strait of Dover -- U.K. and France

    Strait of Gibraltar -- Spain, U.K., Morocco

    Strait of Hormuz -- Oman and Iran

    Strait of Bab-el Mandeb -- North Yemen, South Yemen, Djibouti, and Ethiopia

    Strait of Magellan -- Argentina and Chile

    Palk Strait -- India and Sri Lanka

    Great Channel -- India and Indonesia

    Strait of Malacca -- Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia

    Strait of Singapore -- Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia

    Drake Passage -- Argentina, U.K., Chile

    Torres Strait -- Australia and Papua New Guinea

    Batabac Strait -- Philippines and Malaysia

    Soya Strait -- Japan and the U.S.S.R.

    Nemuro Strait -- Japan and the U.S.S.R.

    Korea Strait -- Japan and South Korea

    Bering Strait -- U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

    Windward Passage -- Cuba and Haiti

    Strait of Florida -- U.S., Bahamas, and Cuba

             Do the proponents of this argument maintain that such a division of political authority makes these choke-points unsafe? If strategic waterways should be places within the borders of one state, what of these? Which states would be granted this privilege, and why?
             Second, of the strategic waterways currently within the borders of the Philippines, most would remain under Filipino control even after Igorot and Moro states have been established. Except for a few which cross south of Mindanao through the Sulu Archipelago and the Celebes Sea, the vast majority of the shipping lanes and their choke-points lie between Luzon and the Visayas.

  9. The borders of the Philippines enclose a racially homogeneous Malay population.
  10.          This is a variant on the "natural" border theme. Malays, however, are not restricted to the Philippines. They constitute the majority of the population of Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. If the borders of the Philippines are legitimate because they unite the Malays in one state, then logically these borders should be expanded to include Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.
             If, on the other hand, the proponents of this argument accept these three, other Malay states as legitimate (and they do), then there is no reason why two additional Malay states -- Igorot and Moro -- could not be accepted as well.

  11. The boundaries of the Philippines have been established in accordance with democratic principles. The state's borders have been endorsed overwhelmingly by Filipinos at the voting booths.
  12.          From 1903-1946, the Moros demonstrated to Washington their consistent and universal opposition to incorporation within an independent Philippines.
             Argument 6 seeks to deny the ethnic realities of the Philippines and to conceal the colonial domination of the smaller Igorot and Moro nations by the larger, Filipino community behind the democratic facade of majority rule.
             The implication of this "majority rule" argument is dangerous. It rationalizes the annexation of smaller nations by their larger neighbors and condones the subsequent colonization of the former's land by the latter.
             If accepted as a general principle, this argument justifies Chinese occupation of Tibet, Soviet occupation of Lithuania, and the French occupation of Kanakia.

  13. Independence for the Igorots and the Moros is without historical validity since neither ever succeeded in establishing a unified state encompassing all of Moroland or the Mountain Province.
  14.          This is perhaps the most bizarre reason advanced by the supporters of the Philippine state. The argument undercuts their own position, since there never was a Filipino state that ruled all the 7,100 islands. Even the notion of a Filipino identity is non-indigenous. Of the three groups, Igorot, Moro, and Filipino, it is the Filipino which is the most historically invalid.

  15. If the Philippine state is broken up, the resulting successor states -- Igorot and Moro -- would be unviable.
  16.          Both an Igorot state and a Moro state would be politically, and economically viable. Each in terms of territorial and population size would be larger than a number of independent countries of Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific.
             Freed from Filipino occupation, the Igorots and the Moros could devote their resources to establishing, or re-establishing, stable independent states.
             Having successfully defended their national existence for over 400 years against military assaults by Spaniards, Americans, Japanese, and Filipinos, the goal should not be impossible to realize.
             It is precisely because the lands of the Igorots and the Moros are rich in natural resources -- and economically viable as states -- that the Philippines wishes to retain possession of them.
             The price which Manila is paying to hold on to these lands, however, has been costly. The true expense can be seen in the resulting political turmoil and economic decline.

             (A) Major development projects used to solidify Manila's control of the Mountain Province and Moroland, have provoked further unrest. Many of the projects have been economic failures in their own right.

             (B) Funds have been diverted from economic development to the war effort.

             (C) The government has incurred a heavy debt by seeking international loans for its "development" projects and "counter- insurgency" operations.

             (D) The wars have fueled inflation, encouraged the black market, promoted corruption, and contributed to the Philippines general economic decline.

             (E) As a result of the instability, foreign investments in the past have declined.

             (F) In its effort to win the wars, Manila not only has tolerated the existence of local political "bosses" with their private armies, but has created additional paramilitary units. Such armed groups, however, pose a threat to the stability, and to the functioning, of any democratic government in the Philippines.

             (G) The attempt to retain control of the Igorots and the Moros has undermined the Philippines political system in another way. The political rhetoric of "territorial integrity," and other shibboleths of Filipino "nationalism" contributed to the establishment of the Marcos dictatorship, has provoked dissension within the Aquino administration, and was one of the reasons for 4 coup attempts against Aquino. Rational debate is impossible in such an arena where extremism dominates. By its nature the political atmosphere breeds intolerance and tyranny.

             (H) While the Igorots and the Moros ask only for national self-determination, and do not question the legitimacy of the Philippine government within certain borders, the Marxist New Peoples Army does. The NPA denies the legitimacy of the political establishment in Manila -- government, legal, non- Marxist, opposition parties, and their respective social bases.

             The war between Manila and the NPA is an internecine struggle for control of the Philippines. Neither antagonist questions the validity of the Philippines state. On the contrary, both are articulators of a Filipino "nationalism". Their differences center on how that state can be strengthened. For Manila, this goal is best realized through a quasi capitalist economy, a multi party political system, and close ties with the West, especially the United States. The NPA seeks to fulfill its version of Filipino "nationalism" by instituting a socialist economy, a communist political dictatorship, and intimate relations with the Soviet Bloc.
             By rejecting national self-determination for the Igorots and the Moros, Manila is confronted with three rebellions, not just the one. This situation benefits the NPA, and weakens Manila.

  17. Political independence for the Igorots and the Moros would be physically impossible to achieve.
  18.          A significant population of Filipinos has been established among the Igorots and the Moros. If independence were granted to the Mountain Province (1912 borders) and to Moroland, these Filipinos, who have no desire to be separated from the Philippines, would necessarily be included in such states. This, it is claimed, would perpetrate a grave injustice. Furthermore, it is asserted, these Filipinos would undermine the new states by all the means available to them - including violence.
             On the other hand, the argument continues, since these rival settlements crisscross the disputed territories, no viable political borders could be properly delineated which would effectively separate the respective nations.
             Deliberately misusing the concept of democratic rights, this argument uses demographic "facts" created by Manila's policy of colonization to justify preserving that colonialism.
             If the logic of this argument is accepted as valid, then it would condemn all the captive nations within the Soviet and Chinese states, for example, to perpetual occupation, and many to national extinction.
             What is intentionally ignored by Argument 9 is that independence for the Igorots and the Moros -- within the historic homelands of each -- would be premised upon the repatriation of most, if not all, the colonial, Filipino population.
             Just as the Chinese must leave Tibet, just as the Russians must leave Lithuania, so, too, the Filipino colons must leave the Mountain Province (1912 borders) and Moroland (Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago).
             The precedent exists. The French evacuated Algeria; the Germans left Alsace-Lorraine, Pomerania, and East Prussia; the Italians emigrated from Libya; the Japanese were expelled from south Sakalin. In addition, there have been two major population transfers in this century: between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s, and in the 1940s between India and Pakistan.

  19. The breakup of the Philippines would de-stabilize the region.
  20.          The threat to regional peace comes from the attempt by the Philippines to dominate two, small nations -- the Igorots and the Moros. Especially the latter. Manila's obsession with retaining Moroland has lead it to lay claims to Sabah province of Malaysia. Alleging that Sabah was an integral part of the Sultanate of Sulu, and that the sultan had transferred his patrimony to the Philippines, Manila nearly went to war with Malaysia for control of this territory in the 1960s.

A New Political Status brings Stability

         The establishment of independent Igorot and Moro states would contribute to political stability for the region in general and for the Philippines in particular.
         Neither a sovereign Singapore, which had been expelled from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965, nor an independent Brunei, which refused to join the Malaysian federation and became a sovereign state in 1985, have de-stabilized Southeast Asia.
         A variation of this theme of de-stabilization stresses that any partition of Luzon and Mindanao would induce political instability.
         Yet Borneo has been partitioned among three, separate states - Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Filipino "nationalists" and their foreign supporters have accepted this political partition, and have accepted the fact it has not lead to instability for the region. If the partition of Borneo can be sanctioned, so can the partitions of both Luzon and Mindanao.

         Underlying these 10 arguments are specific "Western" biases:

  1. Western delineated borders are inherently progressive, hence superior.

  2. Large, modern, economic units are superior to small or tribally based economies. Such large economic systems require large, Westernized states to function.

  3. Nationalism is archaic and de-stabilizing. Despite the fact that nationalism is a distinctly, Western European phenomenon -- the ideology emerged in the 19th century from the convergence of both the Industrial and the French Revolutions -- today, it is, ironically, the European world, and the U.S., which dismisses the legitimacy and motivating force of nationalism, and thus are bind to its importance to the non-Western world.

  4. Religion is a private matter, a personal conviction, which should not form the rational for independence or the basis of statehood. There is a "Christian" bias in this position. Whether a devout Christian or a Western secularist, or humanist -- the two latter beliefs arose directly out of Christendom -- there is an insensitivity, perhaps even a fear, of other religions. The desire is to suppress the political power of these other religious communities.

  5. Modern, Western culture is superior to all others. The material prosperity, technological achievements, and the extensive political and economic power wielded by this world culture are held as proofs of its inherent superiority.

U.S. Interests Oppose Self-Determination

         Citing the previous arguments, motivated by the above biases, Washington has opposed national self-determination for the Igorots and the Moros. Since 1898, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the U.S. consistently has promoted and sustained the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

         Four factors inhibit American policy on this issue from changing, at least in the near future.

  1. The desire of the U.S. government to retain its military facilities at Clark air base and Subic naval base, the largest U.S. facilities outside American territory.
  2.          Although these installations are not located in the disputed territories, and, therefore, would not be directly effected, Washington would be concerned that an aggrieved Filipino "nationalism" - stung by the loss of its colonies would strike out at the U.S., blaming Washington for somehow not preventing the secessions. The prime target for any retaliation would be these bases with Manila canceling the lease agreements.
             This is a dubious justification for opposing national self- determination for the Igorots and the Moros. For several years, Manila has threatened to phase out these facilities despite considerable U.S. financial and military assistance in defense of the state's political integrity. At one point during the 1970s, it was alleged that U.S. planes from Clark air base even participated in air strikes against the MNLF in Mindanao.
             Evidently, Washington believes, or hopes, that these threats to close the military bases are just a bargaining chip for future negotiations. Under that assumption, as long as the bases remain open no actions should be taken that could be used to justify any closure. This means continued opposition to Igorot and Moro national self-determination.

  3. The intent of major American corporations to preserve their immensely profitable business operations.
  4.          Over the decades, an intimate and mutually rewarding relationship has developed between Manila and foreign firms doing business in the Philippines, chiefly U.S. companies. For both the Filipino government and its foreign business allies the tribal lands have constituted a rich prize.
             Under the cover of "national development," these lands have been invaded and exploited. The results have benefited both parties. The companies have reaped tremendous, financial profits. Manila, however, has reaped something more valuable -- political dividends. The tribal societies, which form a rival authority, have been undermined. An effective governmental presence has been established in these territories, in many instances for the first time. Most importantly, Filipino colonists have migrated to these lands.
             To entice foreign corporations to undertake "development" projects, the Marcos administration offered such companies tax exemptions and the right to repatriate up to 100% of their profits. Multinationals were receptive. During the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, U.S. firms, generally, prospered despite the wars. The principle target for "development" was Mindanao which has been transformed into a showcase of Philippine agriculture.
             Mindanao is the treasure chest of the Philippines. The island accounts for 100% of the state's rubber, 100% of all exported bananas, 100% of all exported pineapples, 100% of its aluminum ore, 90% of its iron ore, 89% of its nickel, 89 % of its cobalt, 62% of its limestone, 56% of its corn, 50% of its coconuts, 50% of its fish, 50% of its zinc, 40% of its cattle, 25% of its coal, and 20% of its rice. With three-fifths of the country's total timber land, lumbering is another lucrative industry. The total land concessions granted to logging companies amounts to five million hectares. Other sources of revenues for Manila include: ramie, palay, coffee, cocoa, copper, marble, cement, steel, and gold.
             Most of the profits from these enterprises accrue to a few giant U.S. multinationals. 97% of all income derived from rubber goes to three firms -- Goodrich, Goodyear, and Firestone. 99% of all Pineapple sales are accounted for by two companies -- Dole and Del Monte. The Mindanao land holdings of both Dole and Del Monte total approximately 16,400 hectares making them among the largest pineapple plantations in the world.
             Mindanao's most important cash crop is bananas. The plantations for this industry cover 27,000 hectares. All this land is controlled by four large, multinationals -- Dole, Del Monte, United Fruits, and Sumitomo (Japanese) -- which also regulate the entire export distribution of this crop.
             During the late 1970s, the profits earned on bananas by these four companies averaged $9,700 per hectare, per year.
             Through its various subsidiaries, Del Monte owns 61% of the Philippines' fruit manufacturing industry. The Company's operations are highly diversified including livestock feed, cattle, and deep-sea fishing.
             Dole and its subsidiaries own 38% of the country's fruit industry. In addition, Dole's business operations extend to glass manufacturing, land development, cattle breeding, the sugar industry, and banking. The company is also the largest coffee producer in the state.
             Mindanao's fate is but a foreshadow of what is in store for the land of the Igorots -- ecological devastation, economic dislocation, and demographic destruction.
             The multinationals know that their profits, present and future, can only be attained as long as the lands of the Igorots and the Moros remain firmly controlled by Manila. They, therefore, can be expected to use their not insignificant influence in Washington to insure that the U.S. government remains committed to the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

  5. The determination of Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church, to uphold the political power of the only Christian state in Asia.
  6.          Despite nearly half a millennium of intensive missionary activity in Asia -- activity more often than not supported by the military might of European powers -- the only conquest achieved by Christian missionaries remains the Philippines.
             For the Christian churches whose message of world salvation is predicated upon world conversion, Asia's continued following of          Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam has been a source of disappointment.
             The Philippines was envisioned by the missionaries to be a showcase of the moral and material truth of their religion. Conversion to Christianity was anticipated to bring in its wake the concrete political and economic benefits associated with Christian civilization.
             Apparently, the missionaries believed that such material benefits would be viewed as proof of their faith's truth and persuade other Asian peoples to convert. The Philippines did not become such a showcase; Asian nations did not convert.
             Today, the preservation of the political power of this Asia's only Christian nation is most important to the churches.
             Just how important the issue of political power has been for the Christian churches can be appreciated by comparing their position on the Philippines with their position on Sudan. Both republics are divided by historical, linguistic and religious differences into a dominate North and a rebellious Southhese emotional distinctions are reinforced by physical barriers -- the Mindanao Sea in the Philippines and the Sudd in Sudan.
             The Philippines and the Sudan are mirror images of one another. Whereas the Philippines has a northern, Christian majority suppressing a secessionist, southern, Muslim minority, in the Sudan the northern majority is Muslim ad the secessionist minority in the south is Christian. The Christian churches have championed the territorial unity of the former and not the latter.
             Attempts to form a separate, colonial administration for the Muslim minority in the Philippines, the Moros, was not supported by the churches. Vigorous opposition was expressed by them, especially, the Roman Catholic Church, to any suggestion that the Moros be permitted to become an independent state. Instead, the church condoned, and at times encouraged, massive colonization of Moroland by Filipinos.
             During British, colonial rule in the Sudan, the Christian churches successfully lobbied London to establish a separate colonial administration for the south Sudan -- an area inhabited by tribes practicing their own indigenous religions, and a few Christian converts. In the hope, that this detachment could be made permanent, the Christian churches supported a variety of discriminatory laws and policies: northerners (Muslims) were prohibited from immigrating into the south, northern (Muslim) merchants were barred from trading in the region, the wearing of any apparel considered "Muslim" was forbidden, the teaching and use of Arabic was discouraged, Sunday legally replaced Friday as the day of the Sabbath, and all Muslim personal names were mandated to be changed to Biblical names. The goal was to convert the region to Christianity.
             Since that time, the last quarter of the 19th century, the Christian churches, generally, have supported maximum autonomy for a unified south within the Sudan coupled with safeguards to protect the south Sudanese from Muslim immigration, Islamic law, and the use of Arabic. Often times these same churches have displayed, and continue to display, a pronounced sympathy for complete independence for the south Sudan. When either proposal is advanced by the Moros of the Philippines They are ignored or condemned by these same Christian churches.
             During the 1970s, a dangerous situation was beginning to emerge in the Philippines for the Christian political position. The tribal nations -- the Igorots and the Moros -- began to vigorously assert their own national identities -- identities which were neither Filipino nor Christian. Not only was the Philippines not the beacon of Christianity for the rest of Asia, it was fast becoming apparent to the outside world that the very idea of the Philippines as a unitary Christian nation was false.
             If the Igorots and the Moros were to secede, it would be a terrible psychological and political blow to the Christian churches: the actual territorial and numerical size of their only missionary conquest in Asia would be drastically reduced, a major base for their evangelization works in Asia would be seriously weakened, and most importantly, they would experience a grave setback as the power, prestige, and attraction of rival religions -- especially, Islam -- would be enhanced among neighboring peoples.
             The Christian churches in general, and the Roman Catholic Church in particular, can be expected to use the significant influences they possess with members of the government to lobby for continued U.S. support for the existing state borders of the Philippines.

  7. The sensitivity of Washington to the impact, both domestically and internationally, of any charges by Filipino and Filipino-American organizations that any U.S. support for the Igorots and the Moros is anti-Filipino, racist, and imperialist.
  8.          In the United States, virtually the entire immigrant community from the Philippines is Filipino with little, if any, Igorot or Moro representation. This enables the Filipino viewpoint to dominate in any discussion of the Philippines whether by the media, academic institutions or Washington.
             In their lobbying, the Filipino activists might possibly enlist support from other Asian-American organizations with similar concerns of territorial integrity -- Chinese-American, Japanese-American, perhaps, even Vietnamese-American political associations.
             Faced with the accusations of racism and colonialism over a distant war, and with a sizable Filipino-American voting constituency, many politicians and both political parties will prefer to avoid the issue altogether or take a pro-Philippine stand.
             Against such formidable opposition -- U.S. geopolitics, multinationals, Christian churches, and organized Filipino lobbying -- to whom can the Igorots and the Moros turn for support?

Toward Igorot and Moro Self-Determination

         Sympathetic articles have appeared in the publications of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, Cultural Survival, and Minority Rights Group. A public platform from which to articulate their views is provided by the World Council of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva.
         These expressions of support are important and beneficial. Each organization, however, reaches a limited audience and can only offer the Igorots and the Moros moral support.
         What is essential to any tribal victory -- or necessary to prevent any tribal defeat -- is the diplomatic, economic, military, and political assistance of foreign countries. To a qualified degree this has been afforded the Moros by Muslim states.
         Libya had extended the MNLF military, financial, and diplomatic support. As a result of Qaddafi's intervention the short-lived "Tripoli Agreement" providing political autonomy for the Moros was negotiated in 1976. But the Colonel is irrational, hence unpredictable. He cannot be relied upon to be either an ally or an enemy. Originally, an exponent of Eritrean independence, Qaddafi is now a proponent of continued Ethiopian rule. After advocating the overthrow of King Hassan II of Morocco for several years, the Libyan leader turned around and in 1981 signed a treaty of union with the monarch (Treaty of Arab- African Union). For a variety of reasons including the drop in oil revenues, the war in Chad, and personal idiosyncrasies, Qaddafi has significantly reduced his involvement with and interest in the Moros. This is for the best. To have the Libyan leader as the principal, if not the sole, sponsor of the Moros was in many ways worse than no foreign support at all. A pariah not only in the West but in much of Africa, and the Arab and Islamic worlds, assistance from Qaddafi was easily used by Manila to discredit the Moro cause and elicit further aid from Washington.
         Malaysia has provided, and continues to provide, political asylum for Moro Refugees. At one point during the 1972-1977 period the number of refugees was several hundreds of thousands. Some reports claimed the number was near one million. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the current official number of refugees is 90,000. The government of Kuala Lumpur while officially providing sanctuary has refused either to supply the MNLF with weapons or to endorse the goal of political independence for the Moros. This policy has been pursued in order not upset the delicate balance in Malaysia between Muslims and non-Muslims, and among Malays, Asian-Indians, Chinese, and the tribal nations. When it as discovered by the government that the governor of Sabah province, Tun Mustapha, had been aiding the MNLF he was removed from office in 1975. This was done adroitly so as not to disturb the domestic political balance.
         Finally, between 1973-1979, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an international body consisting of 46 Muslim states, was actively involved in mediating a political settlement between Manila and the MNLF. Since several of its members have had trouble with secessionist movements -- especially, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Sudan -- the OIC supported only political autonomy within the Philippine state for the Moros and not independence. In attempting to conclude such a compromise, the OIC declined a Moro request to impose an oil embargo on the Philippines in order to force Manila to agree. The Conference believed that such an act would be counterproductive, and only result in a hardening of Manila's position. This strategy appeared to have succeeded in 1976 when Marcos signed the "Tripoli Agreement." By the time the OIC realized that Marcos had no intention of honoring the accord, the Conference was inundated by other crises: Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, the political disintegration of Lebanon, war in the Western Sahara, war between Ethiopia and Somalia, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, and renewed civil war in Sudan. The initiative which had been with the MNLF from 1972 through 1975 had been lost.
         Although this Muslim support for the Moros failed to achieve the desired results, it still can be the basis for a new endeavor, one that can succeed if it goes beyond past limitations -- beyond autonomy and beyond the Moros.

Steps to the Realization of Self-Government

         To realize national self-determination for both the Igorots and the Moros, 14 steps must be taken.

  1. Moro forces must unify under one political-military coordinating council. Through its office, the OIC can help to achieve and maintain this essential unity.

  2. The Moro political objective must be clearly and vigorously presented to the world community. The Moro nation must have the right to decide by secret vote whether it wishes to remain part of the Philippines, or to form a separate, independent state. The land under discussion is the historic homeland of the Moros -- Basilan, Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago.

  3. Malaysia and Indonesia must continue to offer political asylum to Moro refugees, but it is not only a problem of these two countries, it is a problem for all Islam. Therefore, the OIC should compensate both Kuala Lumpur and Djakarta for the expenses they incur.

  4. The OIC must continue to provide financial and diplomatic support to the Moros.

  5. All financial and military assistance extended to the Moros by Muslim countries should be channeled through the OIC. This is to insure that the Moros are not made the pawns of other states foreign policy objectives.

  6. The Igorots must maintain and strengthen their political unity.

  7. The Moros and the OIC must officially support the Igorots demand for the reunification of the Mountain Province, a return to its 1912 borders, and the right of the Igorot people to decide in a secret ballot whether they wish to remain a part of the Philippines, and if so, under what political conditions, or to separate and form an independent country.

  8. The Moros and the Igorots must form a common, political platform and coordinate their diplomatic activities.

  9. The OIC should offer to extend financial and diplomatic assistance to the Igorots free from any attempts or suggestions of Islamic indoctrination.

  10. The OIC should reconsider an oil embargo on the Philippines. Although less dependent today on Middle East oil than it was in the 1970s -- from 90% dependency down to 50% --, an embargo would still be a major discomfort and international embarrassment for Manila.

  11. The OIC should also consider terminating the employment contracts of all Filipinos working in Muslim countries. The end of workers' remittances coupled with the return of several thousands of unemployed citizens would persuade Manila to be more cooperative.

  12. The OIC should consider having its members withdraw their investments from the Philippines and boycott all Filipino products until a negotiated settlement with the Moros and the Igorots has been achieved.

  13. Muslim countries individually, as well as the OIC, should exert diplomatic pressure on Washington emphasizing that national self-determination for the Igorots and the Moros is consistent with America's commitment to national self- determination for Tibet and the Baltic states.

  14. The OIC, and the individual Muslim countries, should offer financial assistance to the post-partitioned Philippines and to the new, independent Moro and Igorot states to help each become stable and sound.

         Each of these steps will be a burden to the OIC members, each a potential source of disagreement among the rival leaders of the Muslim world and among the tribal leaders of the Moros and the Igorots. But, if personal differences can be set aside, and such a coordinated policy, or one similar to it, is pursued, the goal of national self-determination for the Moros and the Igorots can be realized. Not to attempt such a program is to condemn both tribal nations to the inevitable logic of Filipino colonization -- cultural and national extinction.

A Fourth World Path - Neither Left Nor Right

         This is the objective which Filipino "nationalism" -- of both the left and the right -- have pursued, and will continue to pursue.
         The Communist party of the Philippines, and its military arm, the New Peoples' Party, enunciated through the Marxist National Democratic Front a Ten-Point Program in 1977 which included "... support for the national minorities, especially those in Mindanao and the Mountain Province, in their struggle for self-determination and democracy." Self-determination was defined as "... the right to secede from a state of national oppression."
         Despite consistent pronouncements in defense of national self-determination, up to and including the right for a nation to secede and form its own independent state, after it has seized power no Communist Party has ever permitted such an event to occur. Witness the history of the U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, the Peoples' Republic of China, and Ethiopia.
         By its own words, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and its New Peoples' Army, shows that the left has no intention of honoring national self-determination. The secession that is approved is one from "a state of national oppression" only. Since by Marxist definition the accession to power of a Communist party would end such a "state of national oppression," secession from a Communist Philippines would have no justification. Such an attempt would be labeled as counter-revolutionary and would be treated accordingly.
         On the right, the leading opponent of Ferdinand Marcos was the late ex-Senator Begnino Aquino, Jr. In May 1981, the Senator sent an Aide Memoire to the General Secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in which he recognized "... the sacred birth right of Filipino Muslims to self- determination." Yet Aquino defined the Moros first as "Filipinos" and offered to them in that capacity only self- determination, not national (Moro) self-determination. Would he have permitted the Moros the right to political independence? Begnino Aquino's wife, Cory Aquino, the current President of the Philippines, maintains that she is faithfully fulfilling her husband's political testament. She opposes independence for the Moros, rejects the "Tripoli Agreement," and refuses OIC mediations. The Igorots pose a less serious military threat, so they are subject to benign neglect.
         One of Cory Aquino's principal supporters and advisors, Jaime Cardinal Sin has been quite frank on what the Moros and the Igorots can expect. At the recent October 1987 Synod of Bishops in Rome, he declared that in the Philippines any separation of religion and politics was "unthinkable." The religion to which he was alluding was his own, Roman Catholicism. In such a society Islam and tribal religions have no future.
         After so many decades of abuse and betrayal, for the Moros and the Igorots to trust Manila and to remain within the Philippines would not only be naive, it would be suicidal.


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