16. Philippines/Moro National Liberation Front (1946-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (July 4, 1946-March 17, 1968): Philippines, including the islands of Mindanao and Sulu, achieved their independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.

Crisis Phase (March 18, 1968-October 23, 1972): Philippines military training personnel killed some 28 Muslim (Moro) army recruits on the island of Corregidor on March 18, 1968.  The Muslim Independence Movement (MIM) headed by Datu Udtog Matalam was established in opposition to the Philippines government on May 1, 1968. MIM leaders called for an independence state including the Sulu, Palawan, and Mindanao islands.  MIM leaders established the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the military component of the secessionist movement headed by Nur Misuari, in 1969. Malaysia provided military assistance to the MNLF from 1968 to 1972.  President Ferdinand Marcos ordered a ceasefire on Sulu, Palawan, and Mindanao islands on February 26, 1971. Sixty-one Muslims were killed by Christians in North Cotabato on Mindanao island on June 19, 1971. Libya provided financial and military assistance to the MNLF from July 1971 to 1976.  Some 100 individuals were killed in religious violence in Lanao del Norte province on September 2-4, 1971. Some 35,000 fled as refugees from six towns as a result of the violence.  Some 75 individuals were killed in religious violence in Zamboanga del Sur province on July 4-6, 1972. On July 6-9, 1972, Egypt and Libya sent a four-member fact-finding mission to the Sulu, Palawan, and Mindanao islands to investigate allegations of genocide. Some 30 individuals were killed in religious violence in southern Mindanao island on August 22-26, 1972. President Marcos declared martial law on the Sulu, Palawan, and Mindanao islands on September 23, 1972.  Some 2,000 individuals, mostly Muslims, were killed during the crisis.  Some 100,000 individuals were displaced during the crisis.

Conflict Phase (October 24, 1972-December 24, 1976): The MNLF began a rebellion against the government on October 24, 1972. The MNLF referred the matter to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in October 1972. Datu Udtog Matalam surrendered to government troops in December 1972. Government troops and Muslim rebels in Cotabato province on March 21, 1973, resulting in the deaths of some 20 rebels. Government troops captured Labangan in Zamboanga province from Muslim rebels on March 22-24, 1973, resulting in the deaths of some 200 rebels and ten government soldiers. OIC foreign ministers appealed to the government to end its repression of Muslims in the southern provinces of the Philippines, and established a five-member conciliation commission (Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia) on March 27, 1973. Government troops and MNLF rebels clashed in the Zamboanga peninsula on July 14-21, 1973, resulting in the deaths of some 350 rebels and 25 government soldiers. The OIC conciliation commission issued a report at the OIC summit meeting in Lahore, Pakistan in February 1974. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed near Jolo between February 4 and April 10, 1974, resulting in the deaths of some 100 government soldiers and 516 rebels. Muslim rebels killed three government soldiers near Dinaig on Luzon island on June 20, 1974. On June 25, 1974, OIC foreign ministers appealed to the government to end military operations against the MNLF and to negotiate with MNLF representatives. Government troops captured Upi from MNLF rebels on August 1, 1974, resulting in the deaths of some 20 rebels. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Sacol island on September 1, 1974, resulting in the deaths of some 40 rebels. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed in North Cotabato province on September 3, 1974, resulting in the deaths of nine government soldiers. OIC Secretary-General Hassan Tohamy attempted to mediate negotiations between government and MNLF representatives from December 1974 to June 1975. Muslim rebels killed 41 government soldiers on Jolo island on January 15, 1975. The OIC facilitated negotiations between government and MNLF representatives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia beginning on January 28, 1975. The government broke off negotiations with the MNLF on February 3, 1975. President Marcos ordered a ceasefire in the southern provinces of the Philippines on February 10, 1975. Muslim rebels killed 32 civilians in Lanao del Sur province on August 8, 1975. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Jolo island on August 9, 1975, resulting in the deaths of 69 rebels and six government troops. President Marcos proposed a peace plan on August 14, 1975, but the MNLF rejected the proposal on September 11, 1975. Muslim rebels killed 23 government soldiers on Jolo island on April 12, 1976. OIC foreign ministers appealed for a ceasefire and peaceful negotiations between the government and the MNLF on May 15, 1976. Muslim rebels attacked a school on Mindanao island on June 14, 1976, resulting in the deaths of seven children. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Mindanao island on June 15, 1976, resulting in the deaths of eight rebels. Muslim rebels killed nine individuals on Basilan island on July 18, 1976. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Calucan island on September 19-27, 1976, resulting in the deaths of 49 government soldiers. An OIC conciliation commission mediated negotiations between government and MNLF representatives in Tripoli, Libya on December 15-23, 1976. The parties agreed to a cessation of military hostilities, and the ceasefire went into effect on December 24, 1976. The agreement also provided for autonomy for 13 provinces and nine cities in Mindanao and Sulu (this part of the agreement was never implemented).  Some 50,000 individuals were killed during the conflict, and some 500,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (December 25, 1976-September 16, 1977): Government and MNLF representatives held negotiations in Tripoli from February 7 to March 3, 1977, and the government agreed to grant autonomy to the southern provinces on March 20, 1977.  On March 25, 1977, President Marcos issued a proclamation establishing an autonomous region in the southern Philippines.  The government conducted a referendum concerning autonomy for the southern provinces on April 17, 1977, but the referendum was boycotted by the MNLF. Some 98 percent of the voters rejected autonomy for the southern provinces in the referendum. OIC Secretary-General Ahmadu karim Gaye and Foreign Minister Ali Abdusalam Trieki of Libya mediated negotiations between government and MNLF representatives in Manila on April 20-21,  1977. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed near Manila on May 6, 1977, resulting in the deaths of three government soldiers and three rebels. Some 19 individuals, including five government soldiers, were killed in clashes between government troops and Muslim rebels between April 28 and May 6, 1977. The OIC foreign ministers expressed support for the MNLF (by extending the MNLF observer status in the OIC) on May 22, 1977.  Some 100 individuals were killed in political violence between December 1976 and September 1977.

Conflict Phase (September 17, 1977-September 5, 1986): Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Basilan and Jolo islands on September 17-21, 1977, resulting in the deaths of 86 individuals. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Basilan island on October 2-8, 1977, resulting in the deaths of 53 individuals. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed in the town of Danag on Jolo island on October 10, 1977, resulting in the deaths of 33 government soldiers. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Mindanao, Jolo, and Basilan islands on October 12-26, 1977, resulting in the deaths of some 50 government soldiers. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed on Basilan island on April 30, 1978, resulting in the deaths of some 80 rebels and 11 government soldiers. Elections for representatives to two legislative assemblies were held in April and May 1979.  President Marcos lifted martial law on January 17, 1981. Government troops and Muslim rebels clashed in Lanao del Sur province on March 11, 1982, resulting in the deaths of 25 individuals. Some 200,000 Muslims fled as refugees to Sabah, Malaysia between 1968 and 1983. Government and MNLF representatives resumed negotiations in Manila on March 13, 1986. President Corazon Aquino and MNLF representatives signed a ceasefire agreement on September 5, 1986.  Some 35,000 individuals were killed, and some 900,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (September 6, 1986-January 31, 1988): Government and MNLF representatives signed the Jeddah Accord on January 3, 1987.  The MNLF agreed to abandon its campaign for independence in favor of autonomy for Mindanao Island.  A referendum was held on February 2, 1987.

Conflict Phase (February 1, 1988-November 7, 1993): The MNLF resumed its rebellion against the government on February 1, 1988.  A referendum was held on Mindanao and Sulu islands on November 19, 1989, resulting in the approval of a plan providing for regional autonomy of the Moro provinces.  The MNLF called upon Muslims to boycott the referendum.  A six-member OIC conciliation commission (Indonesia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Senegal, and Somalia) chaired by Ali Alatas, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, mediated negotiations between government and MNLF representatives from October 25, 1993 and August 29, 1996. Government and MNLF representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 7, 1993.

File:Ph locator armm.png

Post-Conflict Phase (November 8, 1993-present): Government and MNLF representatives signed an agreement in Manila on September 2, 1996, which provided for the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Nur Misuari was appointed as governor of the ARMM.  The OIC established the OIC Monitoring Team (OIC-MT) to monitor the peace agreement beginning on September 2, 1996.  The OIC sent a fact-finding mission to southern Philippines on October 16-23, 2000.  Government troops and former MNLF rebels clashed in Marawi on September 20, 2001, resulting in the deaths of five rebels and two civilians.  Government troops and supporters of ARMM Governor Nur Misuari, leader of the MNLF, clashed on Jolo Island on November 19-22, 2001, resulting in the deaths of some 160 individuals. Government troops and Muslim supporters of Nur Misuari clashed in Zamboanga on November 27, 2001, resulting in the deaths of 25 Muslims, two government soldiers, and one civilian. Government troops clashed with Muslim policemen in the town of Jolo on January 15-16, 2002, resulting in the deaths of 21 individuals. Some 500 individuals have been killed in political violence since November 2001.  The World Bank (WB) and Japan provided reconstruction assistance in the ARMM beginning in 2002.  The OIC-MT disbanded on April 2, 2002.  The OIC sent a fact-finding mission to southern Philippines on May 18-21, 2006.  Government troops and MNLF rebels (as well as some members of Abu Sayyaf) clashed on the island of Jolo on August 9-10, 2007, resulting in the deaths of 26 government soldiers, 31 rebels, and one civilian.  The OIC established the eleven-member Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP) consisting of representatives from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Brunei, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan.  The 1st session of the tripartite meeting of representatives of the Philippines government, MNLF, and OIC/PCSP met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on November 10-12, 2007.  The 2nd session of the tripartite meeting of representatives of the Philippines government, MNLF, and OIC/PCSP met in Istanbul, Turkey on February 14-16, 2008.  The 3rd session of the tripartite meeting of representatives of the Philippines government, MNLF, and OIC/PCSP met in Pasay CIty, Philippines on March 11-13, 2009.  The 4th session of the tripartite meeting of representatives of the Philippines government, MNLF, and OIC/PCSP met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on February 22-23, 2011.  The 5th session of the tripartite meeting of representatives of the Philippines government, MNLF, and OIC/PCSP convened in Bandung, Indonesia on March 1, 2012, but the MNLF unilaterally suspended its participation in peace negotiations with the Philippines government on March 2, 2012.  The two sides disagreed over the issue of revenue-sharing from mineral extraction in the ARMM area.  On February 7, 2013, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) appealed to the Philippines government and MNLF to negotiate a resolution of the remaining issues.

[Sources: Arnold et al., 1991, 261-264; Associated Press (AP), October 25, 1996, January 8, 1999; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 141-142; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), October 16, 2000, August 9, 2007, August 10, 2007, August 11, 2007; Brogan, 1992, 230-243; Cable News Network (CNN), November 19, 2001; Clodfelter, 1992, 1138-1139; Degenhardt, 1988, 293-299; Facts on File, July 9-15, 1972, September 24-30, 1972, March 25-31, 1973, February 23, 1974, August 23, 1975, December 31, 1976, March 19, 1977, April 2, 1977, April 30, 1977, June 18, 1977, October 1, 1977, October 22, 1977, October 29, 1977, February 4, 1978, December 6, 2001; Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), September 6, 1990; Jessup, 1998, 489, 585-586; Keesing's Record of World Events, September 25-October 2, 1971, September 17-23, 1973, February 24-March 2, 1975, July 9, 1976, December 17, 1976, February 17, 1978, November 3, 1978, October 16, 1981, November 1983, July 1986, January 1987, August 1987, November 1993, September 1996; Kyodo News, October 16, 2000; Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), May 16, 2006, May 22, 2006, May 24, 2006; Reuters, November 14, 1997, February 10, 1999, September 20, 2001, November 21, 2001, November 22, 2001, November 23, 2001, November 27, 2001, January 16, 2002, August 10, 2007; Suhrke and Noble, 1977, 178-212.]

 

Selected Bibliography:

Ghosh, S. K. 1978. "Insurgent Movements in Southeast Asia." India Quarterly 34 (July-September): 290-312.

Islam, Syed Serajul. 1998. "The Islamic Independence Movements in Patani of Thailand and Mindanao of the Philippines."
Asian Survey 38 (May): 441-456.

Jha, Ganganath. 1978. "Muslim Minorities in the Philippines and Thailand." India Quarterly 34 (July-September): 328-346.

Kaul, Man Mohini. 1978. "The Marcos Regime in the Philippines." India Quarterly 34 (July-September): 313-327.

Man, W. K. Che. 1990. Muslim Separatism: The Moros of Southern Philippines and the Malays of Southern Thailand. Oxford
and New York: Oxford University Press.

Noble, Lela Garner. 1976. "The Moro Front in the Philippines." Pacific Affairs 49 (Fall): 405-424.