Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): The Moro people and martial law
Almost one month has passed since GRP President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao but its direction and outcome is still unclear. Two of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deadlines in their Marawi operations have lapsed, still they have failed to clear the city of armed men.
Duterte is now putting the blame on local politicians, as well as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), for the ongoing battles between the AFP and armed groups entrenched in the city. He is unable to satisfactorily explain why instead of being defeated, armed resistance against the AFP is increasing.
Soon, the Moro people’s anger will erupt over the regime’s destruction of their city, the AFP soldiers disrespect and the desecration of their culture and rights. Marawi residents have repeatedly demanded a stop to the endless bombardments and indiscriminate firing by soldiers as these cause the worsening hardship and destruction of livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Marawi residents as well as those in the neighboring towns.
This has created an extensive humanitarian crisis in the whole Lanao del Sur. Up to more than 309,000 residents have evacuated from their communities. There are reports of 59 civilian deaths in evacuation centers including three children, while almost 21,000 have fallen ill.
Around 23,000 students have failed to enrol because their schools have been destroyed. More than 3,000 are still trapped inside Marawi and are experiencing extreme hunger. In the midst of battle, a young boy inside a mosque was killed by a stray bullet.
According to an investigation by the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission last June 13-16, violations of the Moro people’s civil and democratic rights continue unabated. Mass arrests escalated. Men wearing black are suspected of being members of ISIS and are interrogated.
Duterte’s rape joke has brought fear. Soldiers constantly threaten that they will rape the women or take the pretty ones as their wives. The AFP likewise encamp inside homes and mosques. They fire their weapons without discrimination. Three stray bullets hit the evacuation center in Bubong, Lanao del Sur, where 300 families are staying.
Last June 15, Maranao leaders belonging to the Sultanate Leaders of Lanao and the Imams League called on the Duterte administration to stop the bombardments and declare a ceasefire in order to save many more lives and properties. They demand that the president heed the call of the civilians.
According to them, the Moro people will surely have nothing to return to if the war in Marawi drags out. They criticized Duterte’s apparent indifference to the plight of evacuees and instead blaming the victims as the culprits of the crisis.
More so, the leaders asserted that apart from terrorism, the war in Marawi has other causes which definitely could not be resolved by means of violence and martial law.
One aspect of the war in Marawi is rido or the conflict between clans disputing over politics or land. The Maute family is a powerful family who once ruled over the local politics in the town of Butig, Lanao del Sur. Impelled by its conflict with the Pansar family on issues of projects and land, the Mautes occupied Butig last December 2016. Subsequently, the Pansar family colluded with the AFP to suppress the Mautes. This prompted the AFP’s bombardment of Butig’s town center and farms, a matter infuriating not only the town’s residents, but also those in the adjacent towns. From hereon, the Maute brothers were able to gather support, and build a stronger force to counter their political rivals.
Last June 9, representatives from Makabayan and leaders of progressive organizations filed a case with the Supreme Court to abolish the martial law in Mindanao. The group asserted that the declaration violates the constitution because the claim that a rebellion exists in the whole of Mindanao cannot be substantiated. There is likewise no evidence to claim that the public’s security is endangered, and therefore the need to suspend the writ of habeas corpus is not necessary.
Using the war against terror pretext, the AFP crushed Marawi City without any regard to the damages this will bring to the lives and livelihood of the civilians. Bombs targeted homes of local politicians who are rivals of the AFP’s favored officials. The AFP hunted down and arrested rivals of incumbent Marawi officials and tagged them as Maute funders and drug lords. In Marawi City, Duterte is simultaneously waging his wars. War against the Moro
The reactionary state has a long and bloody history of suppression primarily aimed to defeat the Moro people’s struggle for secession and self-determination. A series of atrocious anti-Moro wars have been unleashed by fascist regimes from Marcos up to the present.
In 1970, the US-Marcos dictatorship made use of martial law in order to consolidate its rule over Mindanao. The dictatorship killed 200,000 Moros in a virtual genocidal war while hundreds of thousands of families were driven away from their communities. Three decades hence, the US-Estrada regime launched its total war against the Moro. In 2000, more than 50 battalions (more or less 70% of the AFP’s total force) were deployed in a full offensive to lay siege to five provinces, including Maguindanao, where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s main camp, Camp Abubakar was located. For their part, the Arroyo and Aquino regimes unleashed the war on terror and ordered the AFP to spread violence and terror on Moro communities.
Amidst these wars, the Moro people’s unity strengthened in their demand for autonomy and self-determination. In 1972, the MNLF was formed. Thirteen Muslim tribes united to wage armed struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. From 1972-76, the MNLF carried on a fierce struggle which crushed 30% of the AFP’s forces. These struggles greatly contributed objectively to the development of the national democratic revolution.
Because of the continuing compromise of the MNLF leadership with the regimes of Marcos (Tripoli Agreement of 1976) and Ramos (Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development of 1996 which led to the formation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), other armed groups like the MILF took the initiative in leading the Moro people’s armed struggle. The MILF’s decision during the Arroyo regime to enter into a ceasefire, end its armed struggle and submit to an agreement for the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is governed by the authority of the GRP, has brought about the emergence of various Moro armed groups which represent different interests and have various numbers and spheres of control. Events in the recent years prove that as long as the reactionary state denies the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination, the Moro people will build and wage their armed resistance.
Like the whole nation, the Moro people are not free. They are not free from oppression and exploitation by the imperialists and local ruling classes. While burdened by an exploitative economy, they further suffer national oppression and discrimination.
Through deceptive agreements, many of their leaders are constantly drawn to capitulation. Local Moro ruling classes are given minor concessions in order to effectively mislead and make passive the majority of the toiling Moro. Alongside this, foreign capitalists and local exploitative classes extensively arrogate and plunder the Moro people’s resources and ancestral lands.
[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at www.philippinerevolution.info. Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.