The Unheeded Pleas of the Bangsamoro

By: Taher G. Solaiman

CARMEN, NORTH COTABATO/ June 3, 2018 – Many a time in the past when the Bangsamoro asserted their legitimate right to freedom and protested against their annexation without resorting to violence.  Incidentally, all their pleas fell into deaf ears.

On June 9, 1921, the Moro leaders in Sulu petitioned the United States government in Manila and Washington, thus: 

“Whereas, it would be an act of great injustice to cast our people aside, turnover our country to the Filipinos in the north to be governed by them without our consent and thrust upon us a government not of our own people, nor by our people, nor for our own people.”

“We are independent for 500 years. Even Spain failed to conquer us. If the United States quits the Philippines and the Filipinos attempt to govern us, we will fight.”

They said they would rather fight than be governed by the Filipinos.

On February 1, 1924, Sultan Mangiging (Maguindanao), Hadji Panglima Nuno (Zamboanga), Datu Sacaluran (Zamboanga), Maharaja Habing (Zamboanga), Abdulah Piang (Maguindanao) and Datu Benito of Lanao sent to US Congress the Zamboanga Declaration (Declaration of Rights and Purposes), stressing that:

“In the event that the US grants independence to the Philippine Islands without provision for our retention under the American flag, it is our firm intention and resolve to declare ourselves independent Constitutional Sultanate to be known to the world as Moro Nation.”

On March 18, 1935, the datus of Lanao led by Hadji Abdulhamid Bungabong of Unayan gathered in Dansalan (Marawi) and came up with the Dansalan Declaration, a letter of appeal, sent to the US Congress in which they stated: 

“Should the American people grant Philippine independence, the islands of Mindanao and Sulu should not be included in such independence. Our public land should not be given to other people other than the Moro Nation.”

In 1961, Congressman Ombra Amilbangsa of Sulu filed House Bill No. 5682 during the Fourth Session of the Fourth Philippine Congress that sought the granting and recognition of the independence of Sulu.

Now, the Bangsamoro are pinning their hopes on President Rodrigo Duterte and their representatives in both chambers of the Philippine Congress that the historical injustices and continuing oppression committed against them can now be rectified by the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which may also be in consonance with the Philippine Constitution.

Until when will the pleas of the Bangsamoro remain unheeded?  What path must they take that their plaints may ultimately be heard?

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