Muslim Resistance in Southern Philippines

On August 21, 2008 – Pilipino president Macapagal Arroyo announced that Manila government is cancelling the peace deal with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – which was supposed to be signed in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on August 5, 2008. The plan was for the extension of the current ‘autonomous’ territory under the Muslims, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was the result of a peace treaty signed by Manila and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by Nur Misuari, in 1996.

Muslims make 97% of population in ARMM region.

Pagan Malay Bangsamoro people in the present-day Southern Philippines learned about Islam through Arab traders in the 13th century. Impressed by their honesty and piety – they start converting to Islam and established three independent Muslim Sultanates – Sulu, Maguindanao and Ranao. In 1521 CE, Ferdinand Magellan “discovered” these islands and claimed them for Spain under Crusaders’ rule. Confusing them with Spanish Moors – he named them Moros. The Moros rejected his claim and revolted under the leadership of Lapu Lapu, a Muslim, who susequently killed Magellan. Since that day, Moros fought with Spaniards’ occupation for the next 350 year. In 1898 CE, as the result of Spanish-American War – Muslim region of Mindanao was awarded to the US as part of Treaty of Paris. It was only Muslim groups which fought against the US occupation, which the Christians collaborated with the US occupation authority – which, therefore, trained and educated them to become elites in Philippines.

US took over the task of destroying Moros’ armed resistance. In 1913 CE, US occupation force passed a law for grabbing Muslim land – which allowed Christians to own upto 16 hectares – while a Muslim can own only half of it. In 1919 CE – Christian quota was increased to 24 hectares.

According to Canadian war reporter, Eric Margolis’ article America’s Shame – “During 1900-1904 CE conquest of Philippines – US forces killed 50,000-100,000 Muslim civilians.”

When the US government decided to give independence to Philippines – Muslim leaders pleaded that Muslim-majority areas should not be incorporated into future Christian-majority Philippines. On July 4, 1946 – when that happened – Moros found themselves under Christian rule once again.

During Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship – Christian armed forces killed more than 50,000 Moros civilians including 10,000 women. The shear barbarim was pointed out by Turkish magazine Nokta (August 18, 1985), in article entitled “Marcos’ Cannibals” – “They were stamping on Mrs. Kassam’s husband. Bits of brain were spurting out from his skull. Other armed militiamen were falling over themselves to grab the bits. Members of Ilaga think that drinking the blood and eating the flesh of their enemies makes them invincible. What a terrible invincibility! The members of Ilaga, which was set up in the 1970s during the Muslim uprising, tortured thousands of Muslims to death during that time……A bottle full of human ears was recently found in a village on Mindanao, the owners of which have yet to be identified.”

During 1966-1976, Manila government allowed 3.5 million Filipino Christians to settle in Muslim lands.

Robert Maulana Alonto in an article Four Centries of Jihad lists Muslim Moros continuous struggle for freedom from Christian occupation.


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