History’s spoiled child


Faced with an unfavorable election outcome, Nur Misuari staged a violent tantrum. He declared a break with the Philippine government; his loyal followers attacked Army positions; scores of people died in weeks of fighting. That was November 2001, the tail-end of Misuari’s disastrous term as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Unable to run in the special elections scheduled for the 26th of that month—and worse, rejected in insulting terms by the so-called Council of 15 of the Moro National Liberation Front, the separatist movement he had founded—the old warrior turned failed administrator sought to reclaim relevance the best way he knew how: through organized violence.

Thus was born the Misuari Breakaway Group of the MNLF. Many media reports to the contrary, this is the same group responsible for the mayhem in Zamboanga City. The mainstream MNLF, or the various rivulets and tributaries that make up the non-Misuari faction, have rejected Misuari’s capricious approach to politics, to governance, to the so-called Moro question itself.

(This is not to say that none of these other MNLF groups could be drawn to sympathize with Misuari; the national government must not make the mistake of belittling the MNLF’s role in history, or of conducting a personal vendetta against the person many MNLF ex-members even today still call, simply, the Old Man.)

The situation in Zamboanga City remains unclear. The precise sequence of events, beginning Sunday night, remains murky. (If the military knew about the breakaway group’s plans for a “peace rally” three days earlier and had braced for it, why did the initial casualty list identify mostly government troops?) The exact number of hostages, and the nature of their captivity, is still undetermined. (A picture of a number of civilians tied by rope as a group has gone viral, but other reports say that the hostages have been spotted moving freely about.) Above all, the right way to resolve the tension still seems out of reach. (The Armed Forces seems to have succeeded in containing the breakaway group, but the question of how best to free the hostages is up in the air.)

But let us point out what should be obvious. Misuari ran for governor of ARMM again, last May. He lost badly, winning only 10 percent of the vote (about a fifth of the total received by the winning candidate, Mujiv Hataman). Then he declared “independence” on Aug. 12.

Would he have made the declaration if he had won the governorship again? Conversely: If he had truly desired independence, why did he run in an election that periodically legitimizes the polity he wants to be independent of? The conclusion is inescapable: As in 2001, the outbreak of violence in Zamboanga City over the weekend is yet another of Misuari’s costly tantrums.

It is no secret that Misuari is hostile to the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; but his assertion (and that of his spokesmen) that the MNLF has been ignored in the peace talks or that the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF has been sidelined is not only based on the wrong facts; it is based on an attempt to revise history—specifically, his own time at the helm of the ARMM and of the original MNLF.

Members of the ARMM Legislative Assembly calling for an “immediate end to military hostilities” in Zamboanga base their call in part on the following crucial Whereas clause: “the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the GRP and MNLF is still being upheld by a greater number of MNLF rank-and-file, and that the Tripartite Review of the said Agreement is almost at its closing stage.” In other words, and despite Misuari’s evident failure at the ARMM, the work on the 1996 peace compact continues.

It is work, however, that renders Misuari essentially irrelevant. Hence this attempt, made just as the government and MILF peace panels resume down-the-homestretch negotiations in Kuala Lumpur, to throw a spanner into the peace process. Hence, this calculated strike in media-accessible Zamboanga, rather than in his own stronghold in Sulu. Hence, this cruel gamble with his own followers’ lives, and of those of many, innocent others.

If he proves to form, Misuari will deny any part in the violence. History’s spoiled child, he will leave it to others to clean his mess.

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  • Paulstronghold

    Diverse concept of governance that exist among our muslim brothers is the primary reason why we can never have mixed-up culture with them. More so lasting peace. They’re the minority and yet they want to control the whole Mindanao. Their disunity in the many aspects of governance is reflective of what is happening in Syria, Egypt, afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq. The culture of “Hagar” has no place in this country.

    • inquirercet

      this isolationist attitude is the reason we’re in this problem in the first place. look at london, paris, new york. all these cities have muslims living along side christians with no problem. muslims like any other people will adapt to where they can live in peace and can be happy. we should set aside our bigotry and hatred and welcome them as fellow filipinos.

      • Paulstronghold

        Filipino muslims differ widely from western muslims. That’s for sure! The deeply rooted economic hardship experienced by the muslims and the christians alike plays a big factor why both are cynical to one another. We christians want peace, but they want independence. Entirely contrasting idea. Problem is: few power seeking muslims cannot ADAPT to the way of life of the majority Christians living in Mindanao.

      • inquirercet

        people,may it be muslims, christians, buddhist are all the same. if given a choice of a peaceful, happy life and a life of struggle. what do you think people will choose? it all depends on how the majority reacts to this integration.

      • Paulstronghold

        I can feel the goodness in your heart. To have peace, joy and harmony with everybody. Who wants war in the first place? But the issue is mutual reciprocity of any warring parties. Certain virtues no matter how noble it is may not be suited for swine to accept. Harsh reality we have to cope up with.

      • Tommy


        Most Muslim Filipinos want freedom from poverty. Most want to be Filipinos, and just want the fighting to end.

        Frankly, it’s the men in power, and certain radical factions, who stoke the flames and make the entire Muslim population look bad.

      • Joy D

        Not really at all mister, because even though our Muslim brothers are living in the big western cities, some of them still believe on Sharia Law, they want to be amended, they established their culture anywhere…

      • inquirercet

        there will always be the people in the fringes, but that is all they will be. trust me people in a good situation will not be inclined to change things.

      • Tommy

        There are extremists everywhere.

        Most Muslims aren’t too bothered, and just want the chance to live their lives happily.

  • Rommel Blando

    I smell a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the PB scam… I wonder how much they paid Misuari to stage this…

  • Fulpol

    History’s spoiled child…

    I don’t know if it’s the right term to say he is a spoiled child.. the fact that thousands, and thousands died because of his armed revolt against the Philippine gov’t..

    life seemed so worthless by calling him spoiled child..

  • Tommy

    Misuari is also a corrupt, greedy piece of garbage who really just wanted to be able to steal more public funds.

    It is disgusting that he runs around claiming the lack of development is one of the reasons for his revolutions when he does nothing but steal whenever he is in power.

    • neutral bias

      pretty funny for him to be complaining about lack of development when it’s his corrupt ways that have primarily caused this lack of development he’s complaining about in the first place.

  • JosengSisiw1

    miss-uari needs money & he’s using his muslim brothers to blackmail the govt. this coward promised to help muslims invading sabah but it’s just talk, he disappeared after sensing it doesn’t benefit him. how many more people will die because of this egoistic maniac? it’s time to punish this ANIMAL, cut his ears & feed it to the dogs, so he will not be admitted to heaven….

    • neutral bias

      i heard a firearm and ammunition manufacturer in the states recently made bullets dipped in pig oil to prevent islamic insurgents from going to heaven. maybe the soldiers in mindanao can use them on mr. misuari…

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