Now his son wants to play there, too
By Raïssa Robles
Starting today Monday, as Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos tries to block a proposal to cancel this year’s Muslim Mindanao polls, it is a good time to remind Filipinos that Muslim Mindanao continues to be in a terrible state mainly because of his father, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Marcos dismembered and balkanized the once-vast Muslim Homeland as part of his strategy to crush the Moro rebellion that killed over 10,000 residents, rendered half a million homeless and left psychological wounds that are gaping to this day.
Here’s my proof: Before Martial Law was imposed, the Philippines had 66 provinces. During his 14-year dictatorship, Marcos added eight more – four of them by chopping up what we now call Muslim Mindanao. This wide-scale dismemberment took place in 1973, a year after the Muslims led by Nur Misuari and his deputy Hashim Salamat had risen in armed revolt.
The two provinces that were placed on the chopping block were those where the armed rebellion was fiercest – Cotabato and Jolo. Jolo was the home province of Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Misuari and Cotabato was the birth province of the MNLF vice chairman Salamat.
How Marcos carved up Muslim Mindanao
First, Marcos issued Presidential Decree 302 on Sept. 11, 1973 which lopped off a chunk of Jolo province to form a new one – Tawi-Tawi.
A month later on November 22, 1973, Marcos issued Presidential Decree 341 which sliced the vast province of Cotabato into three: North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao.
The Muslim residents of Cotabato were violently pushed back to the newly-created Maguindanao province on, the northwestern part. They were forced to abandon the lands that their ancestors had handed down to them.
Before the year ended, on Dec. 27 1973, Marcos further cut up what remained of Jolo province by making one of its cities – Basilan – into a stand-alone province with the same name. He did this ostensibly “to provide the close government attention and for the purpose of spurring its growth.”
I obtained this information about the Presidential Decrees from a book entitled Book of the Philippines 1976 published by Aardvark Associates, with Yen Makabenta as Editor-in-Chief, Conrado de Quiros and Alvin Capino as Assistant Editors, and Fe Mangahas as Research Director.
From my interviews with officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which broke away from Misuari’s MNLF, and with various Mindanao provincial officials including former North Coabato Governor Manny Piñol, I confirmed that massive displacement of Muslim residents had taken place in the once-vast Cotabato province. But not so much in Jolo province.
This massive displacement in Cotabato has not been addressed to this day, 38 years after the Mindanao wars. The MNLF peace pact of 1996 was silent on this issue. By default, the MILF became the political broker for all those Muslim families dispossessed of their lands.
And now comes the son of the dictator who caused all this misery
In his Facebook page, Sen. Bongbong wrote:
I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend…. I have always been against the cancellation of the elections, the appointment by Malacañang of officials to elective posts of a supposedly autonomous region at that, and amendments to the Organic Act that created the ARMM without the necessary approval in plebiscite.
He did say ALWAYS.
Senator Bongbong has forgotten or maybe doesn’t want to remind Filipinos that his daddy was the Father of Muslim Autonomy that of course turned out to be a sham and has given all subsequent Philippine governments such a massive headache to this day. Because Marcos had promised the entire Mindanao plus Palawan province in an agreement witnessed by Libya, and then he reneged on it.
That agreement has proven to be the stumbling block for arriving at a negotiated settlement on Muslim autonomy to this day.
And now Senator Bongbong Marcos is a CHAMPION of democracy
But wait. Why is he, really?
Could it be due to his family’s flowering political alliance with Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s PDP-Laban Party, which is fielding candidates for the ARMM elections this August? And is it for this reason that Sen. Bongbong wants elections to take place?
In my article entitled Fool military honors for Ferdinand Marcos? Yes, oh yes!, I wondered whether a Binay-Bongbong presidentail tandem was shaping up. One of my Facebook friends BenCy G. Ellorin, a reporter for MindaNews, wrote in reacton:
It could be. Another writing on the wall is the debate on ARMM election postponement: Binay’s PDP Laban is ready for the election with Pax Mangudadatu, and Bongbong is against postponement. And look who are behind the postponement thing? My sources say, they are Mar Roxas people in LP ;)
Could both Binay and Roxas please keep their hands off Muslim Mindanao, please?
The worst thing that could happen to ARMM ( the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao) is to become the playground of national politicos with their eye on 2016.