The Philippine government’s latest signing of a peace agreement with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) rebels should be considered as one of the major achievements of this administration to hopefully put an end to the decades-old rift between our Muslim brothers and the Christian majority from which the past administrations have desperately had tried and failed. The government should act as a parent treating her rebellious constituents as children and trying to do her best to bring them back to the fold. But, in some instances, she will be forced to impose disciplinary actions because it is necessary. The Muslim rebellion in the Philippines, sparked by the Jabidah massacre during the late president Ferdinand Marcos’ regime, costs more than a hundred thousand lives in the span of a little over four decades of war with the government.
During the late 60s, Nur Misuari, a Filipino Muslim and University of the Philippines professor, became the leader of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) aimed at establishing an independent Moro state. The Jabidah massacre, by the way, is the execution of more or less 68 Filipino young Muslim military trainees in the island of Corregidor. The late dictator’s plot to infiltrate or retake Sabah from Malaysia has been leaked out to the public and so he ordered about the abortion of the said operation and murdered all of the trainees.
Malaysia, upon knowing about the said plot by the Philippine government, retaliates by offering these Moro rebels a safe haven in the Malaysian soil for them to conduct proper military training and also by aiding them with arms and supply. Sabah is in the northernmost part of Borneo bordered by Sarawak in the southwest and by Kalimantan in the south. As history would tell us, Sabah is owned by the Sultanate of Sulu in the Philippines. But Malaysia, ignoring the Philippines as the true owner, firmly claimed Sabah as part of its territory.
The Muslim rebellion should have been long ago crashed and peacefully given solutions with, but it continued to thrive on because it was nurtured for the wrong reasons. Peace agreements between the government and rebels are nothing new in the Philippines. In fact, there have been so many peace deals and agreements that have been made over and again but then peace is not achieved as yet.
The willingness and commitment of these rebels to establish their own independent state and the sincerity and dedication of their chosen leaders in fostering peace and development in their respective areas should be the key. Otherwise, this peace agreement between the government and the rebels is nothing but just a front show. The Moro rebels have been given the chance, in the person of MNLF leader Nur Misuari, to lead and govern the ARMM (Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao) towards peace and prosperity but failed. His leadership is brimming to the full with corruption and lawlessness. We hope that the Philippine government’s new peace agreement with the other Muslim rebel group in MILF will finally be the answer and bring peace to Mindanao—the Land of Promise as it is sometimes called—for always.