The Moros’ non-negotiable right to self-determination
The Philippine government’s “3 in 1” approach to the “Moro Question,” contained in its long overdue counter-proposal to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s draft comprehensive compact, continues to be in the news since its submission at the GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF 22nd exploratory talks held last Aug. 22-23, 2011 in Malaysia. Government panel member Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer claims that the government proposal “does address the key issues that have driven the Bangsamoro cause in the last 100-plus years.”
We, in the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA), however, strongly believe that the “3 in 1” instant coffee-inspired solution does not address the roots of the decades-long armed conflict in Muslim Mindanao. Land and the right to self-determination are the core issues of the Moro people’s struggle and aspiration. They are about social and historical justice.
The government’s proposal does not address the landlessness issue of the Moro people—one of the root causes of their impoverishment. Instead, it proposes massive economic development projects “to break the cycle of poverty” in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Those who are from Mindanao, like me, could attest that the ARMM is not wanting in massive investments. Foreign transnational agribusiness corporations and mining companies abound and control vast tracts of lands in Mindanao. On the other hand, the Moro people wallow in dehumanizing poverty.
The Moro people have not benefited from the US-led transnational companies that have held control and plundered the resource-rich Moro ancestral domain since the American colonial period in the Philippines.
Even government development programs that include infrastructure and energy-related projects, funded by foreign official development aid, have not solved the Moro people’s issues of landlessness, unemployment, discrimination, human rights violations, access to education and gross neglect of other basic social services.
The GPH-MILF peace negotiation provides the venue and the opportune time for the Aquino administration to right the historical injustice done to the Moro people. For as long as the government peace proposal does not address the root causes of the armed conflict in Mindanao, President Aquino’s much-touted “daang matuwid” and sincere desire for genuine peace stand to be tested and wouldn’t be given credence by the oppressed and exploited Moro people. We still have to fight for our right to self-determination; a right that is not negotiable.
—REN JALALUDDIN ROPETA, co-chair, Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA), [email protected]
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