Sunday, August 15, 2010

Random News Generator- Philippines

The RNG has brought us to the Philippines, and a looming threat on the horizon: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The MILF--

...oh, dear. The RNG has been moody again. Okay, let's wait for everyone to finish up with the inevitable so we can move on.

We good? Good. Let's continue.

The MILF are the nation's largest rebel group. Their rebel status dates back to 1968, when Sabah, formerly part of the British Empire, was transferred to Malaysia (it is now the easternmost part of Malaysia's Borneo property), to Filipino chagrin. According to them, the Sulu Sultanate- a local Muslim royal house- had only leased the land out and was always really the Philippines' to begin with.

The United States had a hand in this dispute, given the fact that, at the end of our military campaign in the Philippines, we made the Sulu Sultanate a figurehead in 1915 via the Carpenter Agreement.

So. 1968. The Philippines, in the Ferdinand Marcos administration at the time, sought to sow dissent between the two biggest non-Malay ethnic group in Sabah, the Tausug and Sama, both part of the larger Moro community, with the aim of eventually annexing not just Malaysia, but also Indonesia while they were at it. A number of Tausug and Sama were recruited for this purpose, and the recruits were excited to help take Sabah and, while they were at it, become elite special forces.

Then came the "specialized training", wherein they found out exactly what it was they'd be doing. Hey, now, wait a minute, you want us to do WHAT?! No. Absolutely not. We're out. We want to go home. Besides, you haven't even paid us!

Faced with this, the Moro were taken to a remote airstrip on a small island and machine-gunned to the last man. ...well, almost the last man. One, Jabin Arula, lived, grabbed some driftwood, and swam for it across Manila Bay before being picked up by fishermen. There was an inquiry- there had to be- but blame was sufficiently shuffled around so that nobody was ultimately punished for what became known as the Jabidah Massacre.

At that, the Moro National Liberation Front- MNLF- was formed, which would later split off the more conservative MILF in 1981 over a dispute during a ceasefire over whether to form an insurgency. The MNLF, which opposed the insurgency, made peace in 1996 and won the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindinao. The MILF, however, fights on, seeking full independence for that region, and have made it onto Al-Qaeda's radar.

In 2008, the MILF very nearly got what they've been fighting for via the Memorandom of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which would have made it much easier to acquire self-rule in Mindinao, but were thwarted not only by the political backlash, but the country's supreme court ruling it unconstitutional.

Which brings us to now, in another round of peace talks, which for the Philippines' sake one would hope go well, because if they don't, the MILF has announced that they have built their own weapons factory, and have been taking monthly membership fees to pay the bills. Government spokesperson Randolph Cabangbang has cried foul, wondering how exactly one can negotiate for peace while running a weapons factory.

At the moment, peace talks are on hold due to Ramadan, but when they resume, boxer Manny Pacquiao, who has entered the Filipino political arena, will be involved, for purposes of raising local awareness of the peace talks. Let's hope they go well.

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