Saturday, August 2, 2014

Is Peace in Sight for Muslim Philippines?

The Philippines has a 5% Muslim minority population of around 4.3 million. Before the Spanish colonization, the area north of Indonesia (which the Spaniards named Las Islas Filipinas) had a growing Muslim influence, with established populations in Mindanao and Sulu and outposts in Cebu and Luzon. The Spaniards Christianized the archipelago, although the southern part of the country remained Muslim. It remained so during the American occupation at the turn of the century. There is a story that the Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol was created by the Americans as a weapon against the Filipino Moros or Muslims.

Even after World War II and Philippine independence, southern Philippines (southern and western Mindanao, southern Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago) continued to have a large Muslim population. This situation remains up to now.

This Muslim part of the Philippines has always had unrest. There have been varying rebel groups, including the Abu Sayyaf, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group that had received Bin Laden's support and who call themselves freedom fighters. Just this month, July 2014, the Abu Sayyaf killed 21 Muslim Filipino civilians who were on their way to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

The Abu Sayyaf has engaged in terrorist activities, including kidnapping for ransom, beheadings, bombings, and civilian attacks. Recently the Abu Sayyaf released one of their captives for a half a million peso ransom. They continue to hold Filipino and foreign hostages.

Last March, the Philippine government and the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), signed a peace pact ending almost 50 years of conflict that has killed over 120,000 people. The agreement involves the disbanding of guerrilla forces by the Muslim rebels, surrender of weapons, and rebuilding of their communities; the government allows the MILF self-rule and wide powers to control their economy and culture. This deal was welcomed by the United States, which has military advisers in the Philippines.

As of August 1, the Philippine government was delayed in passing the Muslim self-rule bill, although Aquino's adviser said the "government intends to see through the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro."

Hopefully both parties will follow through and peace can come about, peace that has been unknown in southern Philippines for a long time.

Pictures courtesy of Wikepedia, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Hope Yu.

Read also
Muslims Condemn ISIS
Philippine Militants kill 21 Muslims marking Eid
History of the Muslims in the Philippines
Philippines, Muslim rebels clinch peace deal
The Philippines' insurgency crisis
Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Moro Insurgency in the Philippines

Pre-Colonial Gold in  Cebu
Malaysia: Where Enrique of Malacca came from

Tags: Philippines, Filipino, southern Philippines, Mindanao, Sulu, Muslim, news, politics, Abu Sayyaf, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front

This is all for now,

No comments: